No, You’re Not Allowed To Be Embarrassed About Your Layoff

by Rich DeMatteo on May 5, 2011 · 1 comment

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Jacob Share is the job search expert who created JobMob, one of the biggest blogs in the world about finding jobs. Follow him on Twitter for job search tips and humor.




Stop shooting yourself in the foot.

Quick definitions

The word ‘layoff’ gets thrown about very easily, especially when times are tough and the unemployment rate is high, but getting laid off and getting fired aren’t the same thing.

  • Getting fired – when a person is let go from a company, often due to their poor performance, without any hope of being rehired

Example: if he hadn’t resigned first, David Sokol probably would have been fired by Berkshire Hathaway for violating their ethical code of conduct by buying shares in a company that he knew Berkshire would purchase.

  • Getting laid off – when a person is let go from a company, usually due to their company’s poor performance, with the possibility of being rehired if the company’s performance improves

Example: my entire team of web developers and I were laid off from my last job in early 2006, as my employer hoped to save money by outsourcing our work. (True story, and this ultimately led to the birth of JobMob, but that’s a story for another time).

When I was laid off, it took me a little while to feel comfortable talking about it, and that was after knowing the layoff was coming for over 6 months (!). However, once I got used to the idea that the layoff wasn’t my fault and I couldn’t have prevented it, it became a lot easier to answer every job interviewer’s 2nd question of “why did you leave your last company?” (the 1st question being “how are you doing today?” of course).

What about post-hiring layoff embarrassment?

Here’s what I mean.

I regularly encourage job seekers to blog as a great way to build their personal brand by showing off their expertise, meeting and networking with new professional contacts, learning new skills and improving old ones, etc., and hopefully even attracting the attention of their eventual employer. I try to do my part as a blogger by inviting and allowing job seekers to come guest post on JobMob.

A few days ago, I was contacted by one such job seeker who had successfully blogged his way to a job, and now that he was working, he wanted me to remove any mention of him from his layoff-connected guest post on JobMob. Of course I respected his wishes and anonymized the article, but I also told him:

“I don’t think this is a good move. There’s no reason to be embarrassed by having been laid off. And, by covering up your job search achievements – and guest posts of this quality are such achievements, proof of continued productivity, expertise and more – you’re essentially creating more of a resume gap.”

This guy had done a good job on his job search and now he wanted to sweep this success under the rug, because he still hadn’t overcome the embarrassment of why he was on the job search in the first place.

Why is this a bad idea?

Aside from the reasons I gave him in my reply, there’s one more that’s a secret of good employers.

Good employers are always a little worried that their good employees will leave them, and to prevent that from happening, the employers go the extra mile to keep those employees happy.

If the proof of your successful job searching abilities are available for all to see, your employer will know that you’ll be less hesitant to leave than your colleagues, and as a result, your employer will go that extra mile to keep you.

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Pigbitin Mad
Pigbitin Mad

your employer will know that you’ll be less hesitant to leave than your colleagues, and as a result, your employer will go that extra mile to keep you." I wouldn't count on that. I have never had that happen. I hit the wall at two years where the employers forget all the wonderful things they said about me and begin a campaign of harrassement because they need a scapegoat for the terrible economy. (And granted, this does result in a worsening attitude on my in how to turn a great employee into a nasty, disgruntled, complainer). I am also wondering how old the successful applicant was. I will bet he was under 35. Because it makes no difference whether you are laid off or fired once you pass that magic age. It is even worse now that everyone can google your age and not even have to pay for it. The only reason I was able to get jobs until now was that I looked like I was about 30 until I was 47 years old. Even now, I don;t think I look so old but my age disqualifies me immediately because I am sure that if my resume gets pulled out of the pile, the next thing they will do is google me. Consequently, I know that all possibilities of a career are completely gone. All I want is a $17.00 an hour job which is not asking much in NYC. I would also recommend that nobody waste their money "honing their skills" because the jobs are not there, and they never will be (at least not here in America). I think most of the people doing the hiring are ignorant themselves because they don;t even understand how someone over 40 can know a lot more about computers than some dumb kid who is addicted to Facebook and IM (because they don't know themselves). Even when I am the one to show EVERYONE else how to do things, I am passed over for raises and promotions because of my age. IT REALLY PISSES ME OFF.