How to talk about getting laid off and what you want next

Your startup had a ton of potential. Perhaps you hold a fancy degree. Or maybe you just joined, like Matthew Liam Healy’s experience at SoundCloud. No matter how your journey ended up in your layoff, you’re going to want to address your experience when you interview. But how?

Although you may not have wanted to get laid off, employers generally value people who bring positive outlooks. Even more impressive are candidates who stay upbeat, even when facing unexpected challenges.

Right or wrong, you may face extra obstacles when job-seeking after getting laid off. However, there’s no need to make a huge deal out of it. Certain interviewers may not care that you’re no longer at your prior firm. As tech layoffs continue to affect more and more people, it’s more and more likely that the potential employer on the other side of the table has been in your shoes. Most importantly, the best employers will view your “available-now” status as a talent acquisition opportunity for their firm, as opposed to a black mark that works against your candidacy. When interviewing, be candid and direct, and address your circumstance with your head high.

Photo cred Nik MacMillan on Unsplash

When interviewing for a new position after getting laid off, the 3 themes below should help you shine:


Employer: “Do you regret joining FormerCo?”

You: “Interestingly enough, I don’t regret it. I look back on my reasons for joining them, and I feel I made the right decision given the information that I had at the time. Even though getting laid off wasn’t the outcome I had hoped for, I saw a product I really cared about, a team that I could really enjoy working with, and a company that had some real potential. Those are the same characteristics I’ll be looking for from my next employer, and it’s why I’m excited to chat with you today.”


Employer: “What was it like at FormerCo?

You: “It was great. I really enjoyed working alongside some super talented people, and I got to build up my skills in {marketing / Python / customer support / recruiting}. I’m not there anymore after the company laid off {X}% of the firm in a round that affected me — I can send you an article with more info on {Forbes / Techcrunch / BusinessInsider if you’re interested — and I’m proud to look back on what we accomplished. Also, I’m happy to give references from {former co-worker who can speak on your behalf} if we get to that stage.”


Employer: “Where are you in your search?”

You: “I’m being picky about the opportunities I’m considering, and I expect an offer to come through in the next week or so. Even though I’m lucky to have some solid options coming along quickly thanks to {friends / former co-workers / Layoff-Aid}, I consider your company to be my first choice because of {X, Y, and Z}, and I’m excited to explore this opportunity.”

Employer: “I see you haven’t worked in X months?”

You: “It has been a little while, yes. I took my layoff as an opportunity to finally take time to {travel to X, spend time with Y, and work on Z}. It was nice to break the routine a little bit, and now that I’m interviewing again, I’m interested in the right fit rather than first thing that comes my way. While I’m excited to be considering a few opportunities right now, I’m hoping I end up here.”

Even with the right skills and an amazing attitude, you may face an uphill battle with certain employers that maintain misconceptions about people coming off of a layoff. In case any of those folks are reading, we’re hoping this helps to clarify:

To dive deeper on some negative misconceptions, we’ll tackle the “Top 3 ways that startups choose who to downsize” in our next post. Onward and upward!

Today’s post is dedicated to the good folks formerly at Juicero affected by Friday’s reduction in force. More on that on Fortune and Business Insider.

Layoff-Aid Blog

Official blog of the talent marketplace for helping people affected by layoffs, for hiring, and for downsizing.

Adam Stober

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Building for SF tech talent. More on me at 💡

Layoff-Aid Blog

Official blog of the talent marketplace for helping people affected by layoffs, for hiring, and for downsizing.