Call it what you want—layoff, corporate downsizing, getting dismissed or fired, receiving your walking papers or pink slip—losing your job hurts. Good news is that you are not alone! In today’s ever-changing economic landscape, it’s actually quite rare to encounter someone who hasn’t experienced a “lay off” or who doesn’t have a close friend or family member who has. Yet, it doesn’t make the dreadful question “what do you do?” any easier to answer.
So, what do you say to people when you’ve lost your job?
Take the time to think through your message before “hitting the market.” You can craft a message that will help position yourself in a positive light. Here are five recommendations:
- Be brief. You should try to provide a short and concise response—about 30 seconds is ideal. Do not create a 30-minute epilogue about how your former company let you go.
- Be positive and confident. Understandably, you may not have the most positive things to say about your former employer. While feeling these strong emotions are justified, try to keep them in check. Stay positive and display confidence about your future.
- Don’t forget your body language. Keep in mind that we communicate not only with words but also through our body language. Even though the words coming out of your mouth may be upbeat, emotions can be written all over your face. Recognize and understand those feelings, so they don’t infect your job search.
- Don’t lie. Acknowledge the situation, and if it was an uncomfortable exit from the organization, practice a positive, energetic message focused on future opportunities. It’s not necessary to give all the details of the notification and generalizing your message can be effective.
- Highlight that you were not the only one. If there were more than one of you affected by a reorganization or downsizing, use this to your advantage. It suggests to your future employer that it wasn’t your performance or behavior but rather the downsizing impacted multiple employees and was out of your control.
Consider these 4 specific examples to tell people you’ve lost your job:
- In the Days after Being Notified: “Actually, I just learned that my position was eliminated as part of a company reorganization. So, I’m starting to look for a new job. I’m just at the beginning of this process and need time to focus and create a plan. Can I talk with you later next week? You might have some great ideas that I can tap into.”
- Transferring Skills: “My position was eliminated as part of a company reorganization. I’ve had a chance to realize this was an opportunity for me to explore [state a different career path you’re interested in], which has been a strong interest for some time, as I have experience in [list a set of skills].”
- Tell the Truth: “After 7 years with an industry-leading technological company, I am now seeking a new opportunity to expand my skills and take on a new challenge. I am seeking an executive-level IT role in the St. Louis area.
- Highlight You Are Not the Only One: “My position was cut after my company was acquired by another company. There were multiple positions in the Denver office affected. In fact, well over 30 of us lost our jobs because of duplication of roles. I am very excited for a new opportunity as a contractor with a local manufacturing company.”
What language have you used after losing your job? Have you heard someone else use language that stood out to you? Please share your experiences!