Being laid off from a job is a challenging situation, and addressing it to your future employer is an even more challenging task.

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Any challenge is an opportunity for growth in disguise! Though being laid off might commonly have a negative connotation, you can really turn it around and present it as something more positive.

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Honesty matters

It's tempting to lie about your layoff and hide the truth,

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But it's important that you beat that temptation and be honest. You want to be seen as an honest, genuine person by your potential employer, and it's important that you tell the truth.

What's important is how you tell the truth. You can be honest but position the layoff as a positive part of your career journey!

In the example below, you can see that the layoff is introduced factually while also highlighting your accomplishment.

Managed a team of 15 individual contributors and improved the customer satisfaction score by 30% prior to COVID-19 related layoff.

Demonstrate your impact

Before you got laid off, I'm sure you had some great achievements you accomplished at the company. Managing a project successfully? Leading a team impactfully? Obtaining a new certificate?

Whatever it might be, you can highlight your achievements and skills from the job! It showcases how valuable you can be to the potential employer and what talents and skills you can bring to them.

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To highlight your impact, consider using an entirely different structure of resume, called a "functional" or "skills-based" resume. It allows you to focus on the skills you've nurtured through your career instead of the job titles.

Explain the gap time

How you spend the time while being laid off makes a big difference later in your career. You can sit around watching TV all day, or you can focus on learning new skills or doing some volunteer work to gain experience.

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By highlighting how you spent the "gap time" between jobs, you can show recruiters how resilient and growth-minded you are. You can also add additional skills and experiences that you might not have had from your previous jobs.

There are different ways of phrasing your gap time — "career break", "wellness break", "family break", you name it! What's important is highlighting the actions you took during your time off. Here are some great examples of how to explain these actions.

Write your own story

Now that you know what aspects of layoff you can focus on, you can make it even more effective by using your cover letter for further storytelling!

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Employers understand the reality of the economy and businesses, so you don't need to go into too much detail about what happened in your company, which led to your layoff.

Keep it minimal — all you need to say is "my role was made redundant" or "the company downsized."

Instead, focus on illustrating your story, not the company's story:

  • How did you overcome the emotional challenges of being laid off?

  • How did you spend your time after being laid off?

  • What were your achievements from the previous work?

  • What skills did you develop from the previous work?

Your growth story is what the recruiters are interested in hearing. You can turn the sad layoff into an amazing growth journey! In the example below, you can see how it highlights your resilience, growth mindset, and enthusiasm:

While the experience was difficult, I’ve used the time since then to reflect on my skills and career goals. I’m excited to bring my expertise in digital marketing to a new role, and I’m confident that my experience of managing successful marketing campaigns make me a strong candidate for this position.

Quiz: Paola's story

Meet Paola — she was recently laid off from her job due to the workforce redaction.

She was really sad right after the layoff, but she maintained a healthy habit and focused on her wellness by exercising regularly, catching up with her family and friends, and doing things she enjoys doing.

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Since then, she's been taking online courses and obtaining new certificates in her spare time.

Now she's ready to get back into the job market, and she has a list of things she's thinking of adding to her resume. Help her decide which one(s) she should include!


Which of the following should she include in her resume? Select all that apply:

Take Action

You can't change the fact that you were laid off, but you can change the narrative and focus on the growth. It's time for you to take action!

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