Possible upcoming layoff- reveal reason for interviewing?

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newinvestor84
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Possible upcoming layoff- reveal reason for interviewing?

Post by newinvestor84 » Tue Jul 31, 2012 11:40 pm

Hi Bogleheads,
I work at a small division of a big profitable tech company. We just found out this week that our division is going to have significant employee layoffs sometime in the early September time frame. Therefore, I am starting to look at new jobs in case I get laid off. Coincidentally, I also got contacted by a recruiter a couple days ago about some positions that fit my skills.

My question is how to answer the "why are you looking to change jobs?" question with the recruiters / interviewers. I basically have only been in this job since May (slightly over 2 months), and before that was a full time graduate student. It seems like it wouldn't be appropriate to say that I'm interviewing because I might get laid off, but also I don't want to look unreliable as someone who quits in a short period.

Any advice?

Thank you!

WatchinU
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Re: Possible upcoming layoff- reveal reason for interviewing

Post by WatchinU » Wed Aug 01, 2012 12:11 am

You will have to work out the wording of how you address those type of questions in a way you are comfortable with, otherwise it can backfire. some options:

1) better career opportunities
2) changing business landscape, marketplace dynamics, and business declines indicate you are in a shrinking division. that was unknown when you accepted your position initially. I love the work I'm doing and committed to the success of my company, however its prudent to keep my eyes open for opportunities where I can add value and make a difference
3) a recruiter brought to my attention an opportunity that captured my interest. They convinced me to take a serious look at this opportunity that matches my skills. I'm open to exploring opportunities where I can add value and make a real difference.
4) etc...

newinvestor84
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Re: Possible upcoming layoff- reveal reason for interviewing

Post by newinvestor84 » Wed Aug 01, 2012 12:26 am

WatchinU wrote:You will have to work out the wording of how you address those type of questions in a way you are comfortable with, otherwise it can backfire. some options:

1) better career opportunities
2) changing business landscape, marketplace dynamics, and business declines indicate you are in a shrinking division. that was unknown when you accepted your position initially. I love the work I'm doing and committed to the success of my company, however its prudent to keep my eyes open for opportunities where I can add value and make a difference
3) a recruiter brought to my attention an opportunity that captured my interest. They convinced me to take a serious look at this opportunity that matches my skills. I'm open to exploring opportunities where I can add value and make a real difference.
4) etc...
Thanks. Those are some good suggestions. I will think through a specific response.

stan_the_man
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Re: Possible upcoming layoff- reveal reason for interviewing

Post by stan_the_man » Wed Aug 01, 2012 12:32 am

WatchinU came up with some good reasons, but you need to practice whatever spin you are going to give to the situation and be convincing for why you are looking for a new job less than 4 months since starting your last one.

downshiftme
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Re: Possible upcoming layoff- reveal reason for interviewing

Post by downshiftme » Wed Aug 01, 2012 1:17 am

What about telling the truth? You were told that there's likely to be a big reorg at your workplace and as a very recent hire you expect that means your job is in jeopardy. You don't have to reveal financial info or break any confidentiality agreements, but high tech firms are familiar with the concept of layoffs and the desire of employees to keep their jobs.

You are better off to look now while you still have a job than you will be after a layoff anyway. Good for you taking initiative on this.

thebogledude
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Re: Possible upcoming layoff- reveal reason for interviewing

Post by thebogledude » Wed Aug 01, 2012 1:43 am

stan_the_man wrote:WatchinU came up with some good reasons, but you need to practice whatever spin you are going to give to the situation and be convincing for why you are looking for a new job less than 4 months since starting your last one.
I once got a job offer from one company on the same day that I was let go from another. During the interview for that company, the question never came up about why I was leaving. I was prepared to be candid about it and just say that I was about to get laid off rather than sound defensive and try to spin it. In my opinion, they do this for a living and they know if I'm a good fit or not as soon as I walk in the door (a VP told me this) and companies are use to seeing laid off candidates. Just my .02 cents.

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roymeo
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Re: Possible upcoming layoff- reveal reason for interviewing

Post by roymeo » Wed Aug 01, 2012 1:50 am

Wow. 2 Months, huh? With that I might consider leaving the current gig off the resume/LinkedIn, etc.
As a hiring manager myself, that's going to be a pretty hard sell, especially if you're acting cagey and trying to hedge your answers.

Personally, I'd be completely upfront. But if you don't think you can be that direct with people, I'd avoid the topic completely. Though there are employment forms that may require you to divulge that you have a job or you may not being completely honest.

Again, I'd feel a lot better about a guy who shows a bit of agonizing about looking for a new job because he knows he's the low-man on the totem-pole than a poker player who can't show me at least some of his cards.

But I'm also no hiring 'savant'.

roymeo
The sewer system is a form of welfare state. | -- "Libra", Don DeLillo

newinvestor84
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Re: Possible upcoming layoff- reveal reason for interviewing

Post by newinvestor84 » Wed Aug 01, 2012 2:08 am

roymeo wrote: Personally, I'd be completely upfront.
Come to think of it, since the new position would be in the same technical specialization, it is very likely that the potential employer has a good idea of what is going on with my current company anyways. I wouldn't have to be very specific and they would understand the reason regardless.

(Oh, and in case anyone is wondering; no, I do not work for that famous company that is reorganizing right now and is always in the news! :mrgreen: ).

KyleAAA
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Re: Possible upcoming layoff- reveal reason for interviewing

Post by KyleAAA » Wed Aug 01, 2012 2:36 am

I'm not sure it really matters so long as the rest of your interview is solid. If I were interviewing you, I wouldn't even ask. I'm not sure why anybody would ask because anyway because the answer wouldn't give you anything useful to go on even if you could completely trust the answer.

Wagnerjb
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Re: Possible upcoming layoff- reveal reason for interviewing

Post by Wagnerjb » Wed Aug 01, 2012 7:41 am

roymeo wrote:Wow. 2 Months, huh? ......
As a hiring manager myself, that's going to be a pretty hard sell
Like Roymeo, I am a hiring manager too. Personally, I would be very suspicious of somebody who was interviewing for a job with my company if they had only been in their previous job a few months. So....you need to be prepared to answer "the question".

My job is to weed out the bad employees and increase the odds that I am hiring a good employee, and the interview is my only chance in most cases (sometimes an employee will refer a classmate or former co-worker, and those references are usually very good).

If you tell me that you fear being laid off soon, I will probably wonder if you are at the bottom of the performance ranking. That's how we determine who gets laid off. The exception is if your entire department is being laid off, shut down, outsourced, etc. - but it would have to be believable (maybe I heard the news in the industry, saw an article in the local paper). If you tell me that some people will be laid off, but you aren't sure who that will be, I will ask you, "why don't you think they will want to keep you, since you tell me you are an excellent employee?"

I have hired maybe a dozen people into my department over the past 7-8 years. If you have worked for 5 different companies in 8 years, I am going to be suspicious that either a) you are a weak employee and get laid off repeatedly, or b) you are a fickle employee who constantly imagines the grass being greener on the other side. On the positive side, if you are moving to my city because your spouse is transferring here....I won't wonder at all about your reason for changing jobs.

Best wishes.
Andy

void
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Re: Possible upcoming layoff- reveal reason for interviewing

Post by void » Wed Aug 01, 2012 8:22 am

Tell the truth. They won't disqualify you for being honest.

You can phrase it something like:

Normally I wouldn't be looking for a change. I like the job I'm at because X, Y, Z. However, due to business conditions, I believe my position is in jeopardy and am seeking a more secure future.

Don't let them lowball an offer to you though. They may think you're desperate but if you accept a lowball offer that will haunt you for a while.

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NateH
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Re: Possible upcoming layoff- reveal reason for interviewing

Post by NateH » Wed Aug 01, 2012 9:09 am

Their recruiter contacted you. your'e just following up on an appealing opportunity. I wouldn't even discuss it because there's too much uncertainty in what would actually happen. you might (a) be fine (b) be let go (c) start another job before a or b even occur--at this potential employer or the next.

If it's within the same industry in the same regional area, it's entirely likley that BOTH the recruiter and the hiring company already know about the announced layoff. Did you think the recruiter's call was just lucky timing?
4X top-twenty S&P 500 prognosticator. I'd start a newsletter, but it would only have one issue per year.

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NateH
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Re: Possible upcoming layoff- reveal reason for interviewing

Post by NateH » Wed Aug 01, 2012 9:14 am

newinvestor84 wrote:Hi Bogleheads,
big profitable tech company......going to have significant employee layoffs
this is almost sure to make the local paper, so just assume the hiring company knows about it and is looking to snare as many of the really good employees as possible.
4X top-twenty S&P 500 prognosticator. I'd start a newsletter, but it would only have one issue per year.

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bottlecap
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Re: Possible upcoming layoff- reveal reason for interviewing

Post by bottlecap » Wed Aug 01, 2012 9:58 am

roymeo wrote:Again, I'd feel a lot better about a guy who shows a bit of agonizing about looking for a new job because he knows he's the low-man on the totem-pole than a poker player who can't show me at least some of his cards.
I agree. With being on the job only two months, I'd want to have a better reason than I'm looking for better opportunities. I'd probably just say that the company announced possible layoffs in the near future and your lack of "tenure" makes you concerned about job security. I think that's a reasonable concern and let's the employer know that you're not just flaky or worse.

Good luck,

JT

covertfantom
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Re: Possible upcoming layoff- reveal reason for interviewing

Post by covertfantom » Wed Aug 01, 2012 10:03 am

NateH wrote:Their recruiter contacted you. your'e just following up on an appealing opportunity. I wouldn't even discuss it because there's too much uncertainty in what would actually happen. you might (a) be fine (b) be let go (c) start another job before a or b even occur--at this potential employer or the next.

If it's within the same industry in the same regional area, it's entirely likley that BOTH the recruiter and the hiring company already know about the announced layoff. Did you think the recruiter's call was just lucky timing?
Having dealt with tech recruiters before from both sides of the hiring process, let me just say that they will call up a monkey if they have the right keywords on a resume.

Default User BR
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Re: Possible upcoming layoff- reveal reason for interviewing

Post by Default User BR » Wed Aug 01, 2012 11:54 am

jhuang0 wrote:Having dealt with tech recruiters before from both sides of the hiring process, let me just say that they will call up a monkey if they have the right keywords on a resume.
Hey, I worked with some of those guys!


Brian

Batousai
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Re: Possible upcoming layoff- reveal reason for interviewing

Post by Batousai » Wed Aug 01, 2012 12:37 pm

IMHO, I would answer that your company gave notice of upcoming layoffs and anyone who has been there less than a year is at the top of the list regardless of preformance.

thebogledude
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Re: Possible upcoming layoff- reveal reason for interviewing

Post by thebogledude » Wed Aug 01, 2012 12:48 pm

jhuang0 wrote:
Having dealt with tech recruiters before from both sides of the hiring process, let me just say that they will call up a monkey if they have the right keywords on a resume.
Tech Recruiters recruit based on the acronyms and requirements that you provide. A recruiter worth his/her salt is expected to call everyone who has the right keywords on their resume.

Rich in Michigan
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Re: Possible upcoming layoff- reveal reason for interviewing

Post by Rich in Michigan » Wed Aug 01, 2012 12:57 pm

I would go along with Batousai's response.

Also, just because a recruiter has contacted you, it doesn't necessarily mean anything will come of it. Sadly.

I guess my advice would be:

1. At some point, the hiring manager will read your resume. The dates will make it apparent that you are leaving your current job too soon. That is why you need to be honest and say you have been advised that layoffs are coming and as a new hire you will be the first to go.

2. You are doing the right thing by being proactive. I learned long ago not to live with a sword over my head. Also, it is often easier to move to a new job while you are still employed. Some employers view unemployed candidates less favorably because they really don't know if the candidate lost their old job due to headcount reductions or because of performance.

3. Do not bring up the fact that you are leaving early. The recruiter may not care because his is a numbers game. The hiring manager will care (I always ask the "why do you want to leave you current position" question although some do not) so you have to have a good answer. But don't you be the one to raise the subject.

4. As soon as you have been in your new position for a year, scrub the old job from your resume. Unless you gained some skill in that position that makes you a super candidate, 2 month jobs are better left forgotten in the grand view of your career.

5. If there is a way for you to probe for more info in your company, you might wish to find out if anyone can give you odds of survival?

6. Just because you are a new hire, it doesn't automatically seal your fate in a downsizing. Often, companies use a downsizing to get rid of dead wood. You may be viewed as a sharp young person that the company wants to develop. It can happen.

Good luck

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Watty
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Re: Possible upcoming layoff- reveal reason for interviewing

Post by Watty » Wed Aug 01, 2012 5:21 pm

Did you think the recruiter's call was just lucky timing?

+1


If you are working with a recruiter ask him or her how to best handle it. They might have a better feel as to what will work best with this employer.


I would be agressive on looking now if you are sure about the layoff. In a few months there could be 20+ people with more experience than you looking for the same types of jobs.

Jim127
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Re: Possible upcoming layoff- reveal reason for interviewing

Post by Jim127 » Thu Aug 02, 2012 6:17 am

void wrote:Tell the truth. They won't disqualify you for being honest.

You can phrase it something like:

Normally I wouldn't be looking for a change. I like the job I'm at because X, Y, Z. However, due to business conditions, I believe my position is in jeopardy and am seeking a more secure future.

Don't let them lowball an offer to you though. They may think you're desperate but if you accept a lowball offer that will haunt you for a while.
Agree 100% with this post.

nomadgecko
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Re: Possible upcoming layoff- reveal reason for interviewing

Post by nomadgecko » Thu Aug 02, 2012 7:20 pm

Having gone through the job search and hiring process several times, my strong advice is be candid. I agree with the converged-upon advice: tell the truth. Layoffs are coming, you may or may not be laid off, you're worried about being laid off, and you're exploring what options are out there. You're a bit bummed because you are excited about the company because x, y, z and the job there because of x, y, z. And you think this new opportunity would be a good fit because x, y, z.

Good luck; keep us posted!

freebeer
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Re: Possible upcoming layoff- reveal reason for interviewing

Post by freebeer » Thu Aug 02, 2012 8:47 pm

You could always say, probably honestly and without revealing "inside" information about potential layoffs, that you were hired to work on an exciting project/product but as it turns out you're concerned about the prospects of the project/product within the overall organization. I think tech folks understand that situation which isn't uncommon and in a way it may seem more reasonable than bailing because of fear of the overall company situation which may come across like you are only concerned about paycheck stability, whereas many employers in tech seek folks with a sense of "mission" (aka who will work long hours).

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