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I received an offer from a prospective employer recently, with competitive terms that I am considering accepting. One interesting detail is that they recently had layoffs, particularly in the department I would be working for. This is a novel situation for me and I am not totally sure how to interpret it. If I may briefly play the devil's advocate for each side -

In favor of the offer: The company was forward about this fact and made sure I was aware of the layoffs during the interview process. They say that they were due to a reorganization of the department. It is not unreasonable to think that increased responsibility and opportunity would come with the offered role which - so long as compensation were commensurate - would be good developmentally. The idea that they want to hire in the midst of this is also telling that they are willing to invest in the new organization structure and thus is a good omen for this being a long lasting job.

Against the offer: Layoffs suggest the company is unstable and has leadership which perceives the proposed department as at least partly expendable. They may be fickle about the new organization and decide that this role is unnecessary after all or simply face more financial troubles and require more layoffs. Even if the job is not 'on the chopping block' any time soon, there is a good chance that you are stepping in to take over the responsibilities of several people who have been let go - meaning the role could be very stressful and the position could be overworked.

Can anyone lend some insight on this situation and maybe spin it in a way I haven't thought of? I am torn about whether this represents a good opportunity or an unnecessary risk.

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  • Were they recently part of a merger, or split? Are you currently employed? How secure is your current job? Jul 12, 2014 at 22:13
  • Other possibilities are that they want someone cheaper to do that job the "expensive person" used to do. (Which might be illegal.) Or that they want someone with skills the laid off people didn't have. (which is fine for you.) Jul 12, 2014 at 22:24
  • Not part of an m&a no. It was characterized as a part of a decrease in revenue because of an external natural factor that is hard to explain without giving away too much for this forum. But it is allegedly not part of a greater trend and in general I believe it (so let's assume that this company is not "dying" for the sake of argument). Furthermore it was "voluntary" layoffs. Not really sure what that means but there was no target headcount reduction and they made it sound like they just offered people packages to quit Jul 12, 2014 at 22:37
  • The company being forward about it should alleviate most of your concern. Layoffs do NOT suggest lack of stability, just progression. Progression can be good or bad, but it's progression nonetheless.
    – Mast
    Nov 25, 2014 at 13:57

1 Answer 1

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Since the company is willing to be up front with you about the layoffs, I'd ask for more information.

It's not unusual for a large company to be laying off employees in one area at the same time as it's hiring in another, but it's less common for this to be happening in the same department.

As Jeanne Boyarsky mentions in her comment, the two most likely scenarios are:

A) There has been a shift in the skills required, and they are hiring people with needed skills while at the same time laying off people with less applicable skills

B) They are trying to hire young "cheap" employees to take the place of more experienced (expensive) employees, whom they are laying off.

Scenario A is fairly common, and part of the normal course of doing business in some companies. You might want to ask how often layoffs happen, and what measures they take to try to re-assign someone to a more compatible position, or offer them training to update skills, before laying them off. I'd ask the company to get a little more specific than "reorganization" but I wouldn't be terribly worried about it if this is the scenario.

Scenario B is unethical, and likely illegal in many places. You would want to be very careful about working for a company like that.

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  • Great answer, I do not think it is case b... Without sounding conceited or anything, this is an experienced role, quite competitive, and high visibility to executive management. So I do not think it is a case of workforce commoditization Jul 13, 2014 at 0:21
  • Exactly what my response would be, so +1 for you
    – AleAssis
    Jul 13, 2014 at 1:44

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