1. Difference between being laid off and getting fired
  2. How to answer why you were laid off
    1. Be honest
    2. Address the elephant in the room
    3. Answer in a positive tone
    4. Quantify the layoff in the organization
    5. Make your answer crisp
    6. Point out how you will be of value
  3. How to address a layoff in your resume/cover letter
    1. Do not mention it
    2. Mention in a single sentence in your cover letter
    3. Do not mislead
    4. Be wise with your words
  4. Things to do during the period of lay off
    1. Use the time to upskill
    2. Add references to your resume
    3. Use your connections wisely
    4. Highlight your best works in your career

According to the Economic Times, almost 4.1 million Indian youths have lost their jobs due to this pandemic.

Although it is hard to get back on track, focus all your energy on finding a good job.

You can do these few things when you have been laid off while doing so.

Recruiters will indeed ask why you were laid off when they notice the employment gap. Such questions are called behavioral interview questions.

Therefore, it is important to be thoroughly prepared.

So, let’s start from the beginning.

Difference between being laid off and getting fired

To begin with, clarity on the difference between being laid off and getting fired is important.

An employee can be fired by the employer for various reasons like misconduct, inability to perform, etc.

Whereas a lay off is the result of the downsizing of a company due to financial trouble or company restructuring and not because of your performance.

How to answer why you were laid off

With the concepts cleared now, here are a few factors you should consider while answering this behavioral interview question.

Be honest

Industry news has never remained hidden, so lying about a situation of lay off is not the wisest decision.

Instead, come clean and explain to your recruiter that your employment gap is due to a downsizing of the last organization.

Also, do not try to cover up if you were sacked as a layoff. Sooner or later your recruiter will find out the truth and the consequences will not be in your favor.

So, whatever the reason might have been for your employment gap it is always wise to give an honest reply to your recruiter.

Address the elephant in the room

This has two takers, one would wait for the recruiter to ask about your employment gap while the other would prefer to address the issue before and clear off the air.

Although most candidates will prefer the first option, you can also address it first.

Every candidate who has faced job loss is sure to feel insecure or nervous about it and it is natural.

So, the best way to ace your interview is to face the problem. You can explain the problem briefly while introducing yourself.

This way you get to ease the tension and let the rest of the interview sail smoothly.

Answer in a positive tone

It is natural to feel angry about being laid off, but you cannot let it dictate the better of you.

Hence, answer in a positive tone instead of bad-mouthing your last organization or showing any negative attitude while addressing the behavioral interview question.

You can answer in the following manner.

Sample answer:

“The COVID-19 affected many companies and ABC Company is one of them.

The company incurred a huge loss and had to lay off 30% of its employees to save cost and I am one of them.

Although tough, I respect their decision and understand their action, hence I am looking ahead to have the opportunity to work for your esteemed organization.”

Quantify the layoff in the organization

When you put a number on the layoff done by your last organization, you immediately take the harsh spotlight off of you and neutralize it.

So, instead of making yourself look like a damsel in distress, you can make yourself sound mature and in charge when you quantify the layoff that has happened and you were just a part of it.

Here’s how you can address it.

Sample answer:

“My last organization, ABC Company had to decide on cost-cutting as they were in troubled waters because of the pandemic.

Almost 30% of the employees were let go for the same and unfortunately, I am a part of that 30%.”

Make your answer crisp

Remember it’s a job interview and as much as you want to rant out your anger, this is not the place for it.

Also, you want to focus on the positive aspect so be honest with your recruiter and give a crisp answer and move on to the rest of the interview.

Do not prod on the topic unless your recruiter asks any further questions about it.

Point out how you will be of value

The main objective of cracking an interview is to sell yourself better than the rest of your competition.

Highlight your greatest strengths and explain how you will be able to add value to the new organization.

Here’s how you can answer this behavioral interview question.

Sample answer:

“I understand your concern regarding the layoff, but I assure you that with my excellent people’s skill and experience in the field of media I will be able to add great value to your team and perform better by multifold.”

How to address a layoff in your resume/cover letter

Addressing a layoff is never easy, it is tougher to put it in your spotless resume.

Here are a few ways you can address a layoff in your resume.

Do not mention it

Many do not prefer to highlight a layoff in their resume and instead address it when asked the behavioral interview question of why were you laid off directly.

Mention in a single sentence in your cover letter

A cover letter is the first step to attract a recruiter to your resume.

So, do not go overboard explaining your layoff in your cover letter as there will be a lot more to highlight in it.

You could simply write,

“As you might know ABC Company had to lay off 30% of its employees to save cost, and my tenure was also terminated.

However, it had little to do with my lack of capabilities as I have continuously given my best performance which you will find in my resume.”

Do not mislead

This cannot be emphasized enough, but you should not lie in your resume and not in your interview as it will be rather shameful if your deceit is identified by your recruiter.

So, do not try to name your job termination as a layoff if you were fired and do not manipulate with dates.

Take for example, do not update your last job as your current job if you were laid off/terminated.

Be wise with your words

Words play a crucial role in your job hunting arena.

Choose your words carefully while writing down about your lay off in your cover letter/ resume as it can make or break your chance of bagging the interview.

Maintain a positive and formal tone while explaining your lay off.

You can always get it checked by your friends and family members to get their unbiased impression about the cover letter.

Things to do during the period of lay off

It is natural to feel dull and gloomy when suddenly rendered jobless.

Instead, you can channelize the negative into a positive turn for your career by working on yourself.

Here are a few things you can do to make the best use of time when laid off.

Use the time to upskill

There are many online courses you can choose to enhance your skill set to get a better chance of bagging a new job.

You can check out Udemy, Unacademy, Coursera amongst many more for courses relevant to your field of work.

To know more about the importance of skill development for a great career read here.

Add references to your resume

A reliable reference always reassures a recruiter of a candidate’s competencies.

You can always ask your reporting manager, senior members of the team, or if you are on good terms with any field expert if you can list them as your reference on your resume.

This way they can put in a good word or two to your recruiter if they contact them.

You can find out more about the correct way of adding a reference on a resume here.

Use your connections wisely

We all have aspirations to reach our career goals, but it is when we hit a low that we realize our stagnancy and start scrambling to work on them.

You can always talk to your peers, colleagues, seniors in the same field to help get clarity on the upcoming trends and what you can do to stay abreast.

Also, when you have reliable connections, they can help refer you to recruiters in their group for job applications.

Highlight your best works in your career

Utilize your time and go through your work thoroughly.

Ask yourself why do you think that work deserves a mention in your resume and how can it help you to leave a good impression on your recruiter.

When you receive satisfactory and convincing answers to these questions only then highlight the work.

Losing a job out of the blue can throw even the strongest person off the track and clueless.

Though times are tough, hopefully, these tips and tricks will help you answer the behavioral interview question about why you were laid off.

All the best!

Also Read:

Interview Advice