How a layoff affects career prospects


Danielle Kruger – Search Director

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Something candidates tend to get awkward about? Layoffs. You know the recruiters are going to ask about it, so be prepared to answer! No shame, no excuses, just direct info. This is one of those lessons I learned from personal experience…

In the spring of 2013, I was about 5 months pregnant with my second son. My husband and I were about to close on our new home, the financing of which was based on my comfortable in-house legal department salary. From what felt like out of nowhere (hindsight is always 20/20), I got the cryptic notification to report to the GC’s office. Moments later, I was holding back the tears and packing up my office, having been informed that I was being laid off.  It all felt so abrupt.

Once I got past the fear and sadness, I felt an overwhelming sense of shame. What had I done wrong? Could I have prevented this? Will this be a stain on my resume for the rest of my life? Years later, I know the answers: Nothing, Probably Not, and No.

While what I could have done differently is perhaps another post for another day, the last question of how a layoff affects career prospects is why I’m writing today. As a recruiter who is most often working with candidates in the highly cyclical energy space, I see countless resumes that include a layoff. And, like most employers familiar with it, I don’t think all those negative thoughts about those individuals that I feared others were thinking about me.  I now wear my layoff like a badge of honor, marking myself as someone who has been in the trenches and successfully navigated that rite of passage. Take some time to be sad or angry or whatever you need to be, and then move on! What you do next is more important than that company’s totally impersonal decision to lower their overhead.

Lately, I see people bravely post their layoff notifications on LinkedIn (unthinkable at the time of my layoff!) To those brave folks and the many others lurking in the shadows, know that this time, while stressful and challenging, is just one small leg of your career journey. And that, while you may feel discomfort or even shame, know that recruiters and employers are not holding a lay off against you!

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