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In this question about gaps in employment one answer suggested mentioning on your resume if you were part of a mass-layoff:

being part of a large layoff should be noted in the resume. If your division lost 1,500 jobs, and you were in that pool, then note it: "Was included in a large layoff" or something similar.

Having been through similar circumstances, I've never mentioned such on my resume. I'm wondering if this is sound advice or risky. In particular, I'm most interested in the perspective of those who review resumes and select which candidates to interview. Will mentioning a mass-layoff help or hinder my chances of getting interviews? Or does it simply depend on the interviewer whether it would leave a positive or negative taste in their mouth? Are there general pros and cons to consider before deciding whether such should be mentioned on the resume?

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I'm a hiring manager, and I would not expect to see it on a resume.

I would expect to see it in a cover letter if you proactively mention why you left your most recent position (e.g. "After my division laid off 80% of its workforce, I find myself looking for new opportunities making widgets!"). After all, I'm going to ask that question anyway!

Layoffs are really common. As an explanation for a gap in employment, it almost needs no further explanation -- typically it's completely out of your control and I always give people the benefit of the doubt when it comes to layoffs (that is, I don't naturally assume the company was just trying to find a way to fire that particular person...I take it on face value that business was just business).

Whether or not someone was laid off is neither a positive or a negative to me. It really is neutral. It's a truthful answer to "why did you leave X position", but doesn't provide any path toward further conversation, so I would just move on to the next question (as opposed to talking about some specific reason you left a position or were let go).

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What about neither? I'd see this as something that could get brought up in an interview stage where there may be questions about whether or not one learned something from it that could be a bit tricky. Putting that down on the resume can mean there could be questions in the interview about it.

As for whether or not to put it down, I'd question if there are other points that may be more valuable on the resume. If one is putting that down and leaving off some big project or accomplishment then I'd question if it is worth noting there. I could see it making more sense on the cover letter possibly if one discusses experience at a big company that ended with major lay offs.

  • I'd say save it for the interview as well. Most resume reading is automated at the HR level and at the hiring manager level the emphasis should be on positive things like skills and experience. A resume is a sales pitch tool, not a complete biography. – jfrankcarr Jan 25 '14 at 17:06

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