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Were You Fired or Laid Off?

As corporations streamline their operations, jobs are often combined and postions may be eliminated. Jobseekers may be at a loss on how to broach the subject on their resumes or during interviews.
One of the mistakes employees make while job hunting is stating they were ‘fired.’ Most don’t understand the difference between getting laid off and being terminated. But there is a distinction between the two. Representatives of hiring organizations understand the difference. Jobseekers should as well.
Layoffs occur due to a business decision – for example, the outsourcing of a department. The circumstances are usually beyond an employee’s control. Firings, on the other hand, are based on poor job performance or inappropriate conduct.
During the separation process, employees should clarify the specifics of their lay-off, since there are benefits which accompany being laid-off, (rather than being fired), which may soften the impact of losing a job:
  1. Some companies offer severance pay, which can be worth 3 months to 1 year''s salary,  based on the length of time the employee has been with the company
  2. Employees who are laid off can also apply for unemployment while looking for a new job
  3. The company may opt to fully vest laid-off employees in their 401k
In order to assist in job hunting, employees should ask their former employer the reason(s) they were laid off. If advised that it is because the company had to make cuts in payroll, employees should ask what criteria were used to place them on the layoff list (low seniority, poor attendance, lack of specific skills, previous disciplinary action, etc.).
Uneasy that their candidacy is tainted, jobseekers are often discouraged about their chances of landing a new position. Jobseekers’ perception is their own worst enemy. Many will walk into an interview defeated and simply go through the motions. This strategy is sure to backfire.
Candidates should keep in mind that through the employment dates on resumes, interviewers are aware the jobseeker’s unemployment status prior to extending an offer to interview. They are purposely overlooking a job loss in favor of experience.
Over the years, the stigma surrounding those who are laid off has decreased significantly.  In fact, in some cases, jobseekers are harder on their unemployment status than those responsible for hiring.

Author Linda Matias is certified in all three areas of the job search - Certified Interview Coach (CIC), Job & Career Transition Coach (JCTC), and Nationally Certified Resume Writer (NCRW).  She is a contributing writer to over 15 career-related books.  You can visit her website