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I was recently formally laid off from an employment position with the reason being that the company did not capitalize enough on my employment. The boss said that he really appreciated my skills and really liked my personality, so those were not the reasons. However, about three weeks ago I saw an ad posted by my company (and the ad is still active) looking for the same position that I was working in. Then I asked my boss if he was looking for additional people and also asked the hiring manager if the boss had any intent to replace me, and both replied to the effect that no one was looking to replace me in the position.

It is not that I necessarily have many regrets losing this job, but I do not believe the stated reason behind the layoff, and what really frustrates me is the apparent lack of knowledge of what could make my boss want to hide the true reason behind the layoff. When I was being hired, the boss said there was no shortage of work. I also almost never had a time when I had nothing to do. Also the person whose position I took a few months ago left the company for another job and there was no question about laying him off. I do not believe that all of a sudden the company started experiencing a shortage of work related to my position.

So, if the real reason is that my boss was not satisfied with my performance then why wouldn't he tell me and, instead, praise my skills? The only logical guess that I have right now is that this must somehow be related to my personality. But I would like to know the truth. What can I do to this effect? I feel very badly because I understand that I'm most likely being lied to and I am being kept in the dark. This is extremely frustrating and disappointing.

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    "So, if the real reason is that my boss was not satisfied with my performance then why wouldn't he tell me and, instead, praise my skills?" generally speaking it likely was probably because that way it was less of a scene/liability. You won't get to know the truth, just have to move on. Sep 19 '20 at 23:19
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    To the current 2 vote to close: this question is nor opinion based nor lacks a goal: OP would like to know what to do in order to know the "truth"
    – DarkCygnus
    Sep 20 '20 at 0:15
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    "company did not capitalize enough on my employment" sounds like a viable reason if you read it as "your work result was insufficient"
    – Strader
    Sep 20 '20 at 0:21
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    @Strader The boss unambiguously said that my skills were 'impressive'. Also the kind of work that I had to do was very demanding and challenging, and the position was listed as an apprentice position, but the boss had said that I was not an apprentice (more qualified than that) and thus had raised my salary twice over the four+ months of employment.
    – sequence
    Sep 20 '20 at 0:38
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    @sequence, if your salary was raised twice in four months, I'd say that gives substantial credence to the idea that your immediate boss had no personal concerns about you at all. Whatever the reason is, it doesn't sound like your performance is inadequate - indeed, with the pay rises, is it possible that your boss priced you out of the job, or that someone else intervened to decide that you were overqualified? Is cronyism even a possibility - letting you go to make way for a friend or family of management?
    – Steve
    Sep 20 '20 at 1:06
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In some countries, laying off and firing are not that different. But with EI and Canadian labour law, they are. Yes, I can lay someone off and then immediately replace them with a very similar person doing the exact same thing, but I am not supposed to. Pretty much by definition, if I lay you off I am saying I would have preferred to continue to employ you, but I can't right now.

This means that the reason for the layoff is not about you and your desire to learn more about these reasons is going to be frustrated. One of these is likely the reason:

  • they have to save money because of a cancelled project, and they can get by without you but everyone else is critical (note in this case when they get more work, they might re-hire someone very similar to you, and they are probably trying very hard to get more of that work, so they're likely to do so.)
  • they have to save money, there are a number of people they can get by without, and they chose you -- maybe because you were the most expensive, maybe because they like the others more, maybe because they think you can quickly get another job and the others couldn't, maybe because they think they can find someone else like you if they need those skills but the others have rarer skills
  • they don't have to save money but they're pretending they do as a favour to you so that you can collect EI without any chance of a waiting period after being fired "for cause". This is often phrased as "we're not getting any work that you can do" when they believe you can't successfully do any of their work any more.

I think you can rule out the last one: they've praised your work and given you raises. So they had some sort of money crunch, and the reason it is you who went is more about the projects they have and the other people they have than it is about you. There is no actionable information in "we didn't want to lay off the single parent so we chose you" or "we were worried we couldn't find another licensed electrician later so we chose you" or anything else like that.

You say you never saw a shortage of work. That tells me your managers manage well. They know what's coming over the next few days, weeks, and months. I doubt you know the whole sales pipeline, what they were hoping to start, what's not starting on time or ever, and so on. It's common to believe that you know more than your bosses, but it's rarely true. You need to let go of the belief that this layoff was about you. It almost certainly wasn't. And if it was, and you had a magical way to make them tell you The Truth, you almost certainly would not be able to learn and grow from that information.

Instead, the opportunity facing you now is to learn how to embrace uncertainty and not knowing, and how to let go of things that are over -- that job, and what they think of you -- in order to more fully engage with what is next.

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The only logical guess that I have right now is that this must somehow be related to my personality. But I would like to know the truth. What can I do to this effect?

To be honest, there is little to nothing you can do to "know the truth".

Besides, knowing the truth will serve you no actionable purpose for that job, as that job is already in the past. It's best if you move on and find another job as soon as possible.

If your boss praised your skills perhaps you want to ask them for a recommendation letter to aid you in getting a new job (if they don't give you one that would hint on the "true reasons").

Most of the time companies don't disclose the "true" reasons why they are laying you off, as to protect themselves from possible lawsuits and similar.

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    "knowing the truth will serve you no actionable purpose" Actually this kind of information would help me quite a bit to make certain conclusions and act accordingly down the road. A letter of recommendation should not be a problem. Thanks for mentioning this, I'm going to ask for one.
    – sequence
    Sep 20 '20 at 0:42
  • @sequence yeah but like I said it's very unlikely that they will tell you the "true" reasons. As someone pointed in comments, "didn't capitalize enough from your employment" means that they weren't getting much revenue as they wanted from the job you were doing... I think that's as far as you'll know (perhaps it was that they were expecting much more revenue than reasonable? perhaps you were a bit under-performing than they would have expected?). Ask for the letter and if they give one to you that would dissipate your doubts about your skills
    – DarkCygnus
    Sep 20 '20 at 0:45
  • Well the position was an apprentice position, and I was, from my understanding, a semi-apprentice, in the sense that there was some specific stuff that I had to learn from experience, but I also had very good skills, apparently exceeding the skills of some of the employees (I know because they were our clients) in a related sector, who are earning significantly bigger wages.
    – sequence
    Sep 20 '20 at 1:51
  • And I was getting a salary that was commensurate with experience at this position (at the upper boundary of the apprentice range written out in the job ad), but considerably less than the average by the standards of the city in which I live (I was okay with it as I expected a raise down the road). The boss has said he'd give me any letter I wanted and would give me very good references. @DarkCygnus
    – sequence
    Sep 20 '20 at 1:55
  • @sequence that's great to hear :) I suggest you do ask for a letter/reference and take advantage of that for your job hunting. We can see that they indeed valued your skills to the point to give you a reference, so you can now infer the true reasons actually being what they told you (company wasn't making as much as they wanted from that position/project).
    – DarkCygnus
    Sep 20 '20 at 2:10

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