Ask an Expert: How to Explain a Downsizing During an Interview

scamAn AOL reader asks, "I have been let go and I am collecting a severance package. How do I handle this in a interview? My former employer will not report anything negative if a prospective employer calls for a reference."

You're not alone! Many people face the same conversation in their interviews each day and in a volatile market, being downsized doesn't necessarily hurt your chances of finding new employment because employers often realize that many good employees were let go due to circumstances beyond their control.

If asked why you are currently in a job search, here are a few tips for handling the question with dignity and integrity while building trust and rapport with the hiring manager.

State the business reason for the downsizing.

Don't say you were fired or let go. The downsizing wasn't about you. State the business reason for the downsizing. Perhaps the company went out of business, moved the operation to a less expensive location, merged with another company creating job redundancies, or cut jobs across multiple functions due to declining profits. Explain the downsizing in the larger context and try to show scope whenever possible. Mention the big picture. Perhaps everyone in your department or at your professional level was terminated, or 10 percent of the work force across the board was let go. Prove that you were not the only one that was part of the downsizing.

Assure the employer you were not let go due to performance issues.

Let the hiring manager know that the termination had nothing to do with performance and offer to share previous performance reviews that show you were performing at or above company expectations. This type of transparency will potentially help build your credibility as a candidate and strengthen the relationship with the hiring authority.

Offer to share your references with the employer.

Generally employers don't check references until you are a final candidate or there is a job offer on the table. But by offering to share your references early on in the interview process, you send the message that you were a strong performer in your previous position and you have nothing to hide.

Add testimonials to your resume to prove you left in good standing.

Adding excerpts from a past performance appraisal, customer thank you letter, or recommendation letter to the resume can be another great way to eliminate any potential bias tied to the fact that you were downsized. This strategy can also help differentiate you as a candidate and make you more memorable in the eyes of the hiring manager.

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I was fired twice do to outsourcing and I let my new employer know about it. You are better off letting a prospective employer know exactly why you were terminated without sugarcoating it. But try not to show bitterness over it.
I always take the attitude that it was their loss and not mine. That I am the best in my field. It worked for me anyway.

November 09 2010 at 7:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ramon suarez

Is it legal for a company to lay you off, stating that is due to budget cuts, and then they hire someone else for your position?

November 09 2010 at 5:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
nicholas ferrara

feel sorry for jalepeno... I got let terminated back on January 10, 2010. When I wasa hired I was told 700-1000 per week commissisions were very possible. After 2 weeks and my first supervisor fired (for breaking rules and regulations repeatedly) It became very apparent that 700 a week was not going to happen. More like 250-350 for working almost 65 hours a week. When I asked where is the momney well you can guess what has happenned next, in the dog house. Finally terminated after hearing the same BS over and over. AND they told the unemployment examiner I was terminated for insubordination. Ok pretty soon, my turn.

November 09 2010 at 5:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Lori is right, but good luck suing...first you have to find an attorney that will take the case - most won't talk to you unless you have proof.

November 09 2010 at 3:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to nikoman1's comment

This is all well, and good, but what does one do when the former employer lies about why you were let go? What do you do when the former employer makes false reports on your DAC report?
When a former employer (M.W.Trucking,Inc.) lies to prospective employers, it just proves he's lost his own integrity.
I have more respect for someone who tells the truth, as opposed to one (Mark Washatka) that cannot, or refuses to.

November 09 2010 at 2:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
4 replies to Jalapeno's comment

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