October 23, 2015

How Small Businesses Can Benefit From the Surge in Corporate Layoffs

WaterfallWe take no pleasure in hearing about the decline of any firm’s fortunes, nor in the subsequent layoffs that often go hand in hand with such declines. Such events are shocking and challenging for many innocent and unsuspecting workers.

Sadly, CNBC reports that the number of layoffs by U.S. companies surged in September, climbing to 58,877 from 41,000 in August.

But we are not going to approach this development from the typical angle of supporting those workers who have suddenly found themselves on the market — though, of course, we do support them.

Instead, we want to talk about how small businesses can tap into the new stream of talent produced by these layoffs.

Corporate layoffs offer small businesses are great opportunity. Perhaps you’ve been looking for a sales director for a few months now — and suddenly, a whole army of them have been released into the job market! Your perfect match may have just been laid off from their job.

Of course, there will be competition for this talent. Plenty of other companies have their eyes of this new crop of job seekers as well. That’s why you need a solid strategy to court these candidates and bring them into your company.

Start by Eradicating Any Prejudice Against Laid-Off Workers at Your Company

We know from research that one of the biggest barriers to hiring laid-off workers is a prejudice many hiring authorities have against unemployed job seekers — especially those who were let go from their previous positions. These kind of candidates come with a social stigma attached to them, causing many employers to ignore them.

And yet, the reality is these candidates are just as capable as the currently employed. Why shouldn’t they be? They were perfectly able to do the job last week, last month, last quarter, and last year. There is no logical reason that they can’t do the job today at your company

The first step to finding great new talent amid these layoffs, then, is to make sure the hiring authorities at your compFishingany know laid-off talent has a lot to offer.

Go Headhunting

The most dynamic and ambitious laid-off talent will be quickly snapped up by other companies. If you want to be one of the companies that gets these candidates, you’ll need a direct headhunting strategy.

At its most basic level, this might involve contacting the HR people at a business you know is laying off staff. These people may be able to recommend laid-off or soon-to-be-laid-off candidates, or they may be able to refer you to an event that laid-off employees may be attending.

If you don’t have the appetite or resources for this kind of headhunting activity, then you’ll want to engage a professional headhunter to do it for you.

Be Flexible

It would be a mistake to think that redundant workers are all desperate to work for you. Not only will they have options with other companies, but many will also have financial safety nets. Some of these job seekers may see this new chapter of their life as an opportunity to make a career change — or at least a chance to reevaluate their career choices thus far.

Not all laid-off job seekers are easy targets. You’ll need to do some hard work to get them on board with your company.

It’s likely that many of them will be looking for better work-life balance going forward. You should be open to offering them reduced workweeks and/or increased flexible work options.

Others will be looking for opportunities to step up to new levels in their careers. Consider offering these candidates stretch positions that enable them to extend themselves and move up the hierarchy at your company.

Still others may have grown tired of big-company bureaucracy. These candidates may be looking for leaner, more entrepreneurial working environments. An attractive message to send these candidates would be that your forward-thinking small business environment is a great place for them to break out of their rigid former roles.

Dangling FeetLaid-off workers are a complicated bunch, and they should not be viewed as desperate candidates waiting to be saved by your business. If you view laid-off workers that way, you will struggle to effectively hire from this invaluable talent pool. As you flail about in these waters, your competitors will reap all the rewards.

It is vital that you understand the unique qualities and individual needs of every laid-off worker. Don’t view laid-off job seekers as a monolithic whole. Develop tailored opportunities that will turn their heads. That is how your small firm can fully benefit from these big-company layoffs.

Read more in Layoffs

Kazim Ladimeji is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and has been a practicing HR professional for 14 years. Kazim is the Director of The Career Cafe: a resource for start-ups, small business and job seekers.