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Recruiters and hiring managers sometimes fail to distinguish between firings and layoffs when perusing resumes, causing valuable candidates to slip through the cracks. With low unemployment the new norm, potential employers must be willing to dig deeper to understand exactly why an applicant left their previous job.

While companies may lay off employees to streamline processes or reorganize, that doesn’t mean those employees don’t have marketable skills that can be of value to a new employer. In fact, layoffs present a valuable opportunity for hiring entities as experienced candidates reenter the job market.

“Recruiters should be familiar with all companies — small or large — because even good companies can have layoffs,” says Lyndsey Resendez, recruiting manager for staffing firm Addison Group’s finance and accounting team. “Knowing what companies are having layoffs can be a great way to find a pool of hot candidates. If you are familiar with the market and what companies are having layoffs, you will be able to quickly recognize this when you are reviewing resumes, thus allowing you to recruit available candidates.”

Back on the Market

Layoffs are a stressful time, especially for the workers who are laid off. As such, it may be tempting for the recently unemployed to delay their reentry into the job market. However, it’s important for workers in this situation to immediately update their online presences and resumes so they don’t miss out on opportunities from recruiters who may be monitoring the layoff.

“After being laid off, candidates need to quickly update their resumes so that they can use all resources that are available in this market,” Resendez says. “Next would be to post their resumes so that recruiters can find them and start the recruiting process. It is important to keep an up-to-date LinkedIn profile as well. If you have some notice before your layoff date, you should take the time to speak with your colleagues and management team about other companies that might be hiring and request referrals, as this can often lead to the best opportunities.”

An Eye on the Talent Market

For recruiters and hiring managers with open positions to fill, being proactive about industry layoffs can give you first pick of the new available talent. Don’t be afraid to interact with a company’s HR department directly if you know they have layoffs on the horizon. Similarly, don’t hesitate to reach out to the workers to present your opportunities.

“The best way that we have targeted companies that are doing layoffs is by working with their management team to set up in-house interviews for any employees that are being let go,” says Resendez. “It is ideal if you can go on site to host a resume writing and interview guideline class, or interview anyone who is being laid off. You can add immediate value to candidates losing their job this way, and [you can] also start building a relationship with the employees that you might potentially hire.”

Resendez also notes that even employees who are not being laid off may be more open to new opportunities “due to uncertainty within the company.” Of course, it’s unlikely a company would let you come in to interview staff members who aren’t being laid off. It may be a better idea to monitor these employees on a site like LinkedIn, where you can conduct company-specific searches of talent.

The key takeaway here for recruiters should be understanding that just because an employee is being laid off, that doesn’t mean they don’t have anything to offer to other companies.

Layoffs are difficult, but they don’t have to be career-ending. While an unexpected layoff is tragic and frightening, it is also an opportunity for both recruiters and candidates. Taking advantage of that opportunity can lead to great things for both parties.



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