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I recently changed from a long-term stable position to join another company. After 5 months in the new company, I have been told I am being laid off. I am applying for companies but it seems that my short stint in this new company (through no fault of my own) is hurting my chances at getting an interview.

When and how should I address the reason I am leaving the position so soon?

  • Welcome back. I've made an edit to your question to try to focus on the core question you're asking about. If you think I removed important information to get you good answers, please feel free to edit it to put them back in. I believe this edit will make it easier for you to get high-quality answers, but it's your question, so make sure that getting an answer as edited will actually solve your problem! Thanks for the good question. – jmac Oct 21 '13 at 9:17
  • Immediately. Most interviewers will notice the time frame and ask you outright, but there's no risk in subtly adding it to your standard opening narrative describing who you are and what you're looking for. – Joel Etherton Oct 21 '13 at 14:45
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There are a few different ways to mention this, at various stages of your job search. Don't hesitate to use all of them if the opportunity arises:

  • If the application form has a space for "reason for leaving" (many do, including online applications), indicate "laid off" or if that is not an option use "other" and indicate "laid off".

  • In your cover letter or introductory email, say up front that you are currently looking for a new position because of your previous company's reduction in force.

  • In a phone screen or other interview, when they ask why you are looking for another position, indicate your company has gone through a reduction in force and you are now laid off.

If you are indicating in the application (where possible) and in your introductory email or cover letter that you have been laid off, then you've done what you can to get the point across. If people aren't reading those, and are just looking at your resume, then that's unfortunate but not uncommon.

You could mitigate that by indicating your reason for leaving directly in your resume in this situation in the entry for this position, but I don't see that very often. If, as a hiring manager, I did see a statement about the RIF directly on your resume, I would consider it valid and wouldn't think it was too weird (but then again I would also expect to see it in your cover letter).

  • @JoeStrazzere Agreed, was just thinking about the poor person who's getting pigeonholed as a job hopper when they were really just RIF'd, & no one is paying attention to their cover letter. They could put it on the resume, and if it is jarring enough to the reviewer to see it, well, then at least they finally saw it. :) – jcmeloni Oct 21 '13 at 14:05
  • "Reduction In Force"(ed) -- now that's an HRism if I've ever heard one. Is that truly more appropriate than putting 'laid off' or 'made redundant' or any of the other euphemisms for this? – jmac Oct 21 '13 at 23:51
  • @jmac Eh, depends. Different industries, location, etc employ nuanced meanings to the term, & differentiate between mass layoff (like a RIF), individual layoff (position elimination), temporary layoff (furloughs), & so on. If the company was going through an RIF and an employee got caught up in it and referred to it with that term, it would be more meaningful to me (says more about the company than the employee) than "I was laid off", which could just be the company being nice and not firing them outright (so benefits can be collected more easily (US)). – jcmeloni Oct 22 '13 at 0:02
  • The point's really the same: just get in front of the situation the best you can, if you think it's a barrier. – jcmeloni Oct 22 '13 at 0:04
  • @jcmeloni, I was honestly just curious about the nuance of the term. Thanks for the info. To the untrained me (I am working in a country where layoffs of full-time employees are essentially unheard of), 'laid off' is 'laid off' and any other way of putting it is just a euphemism. – jmac Oct 22 '13 at 0:15

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