One of the most feared words in our professional lives is also becoming one of the inevitable. Today, layoffs are more the manifestation of misaligned management than those of a difficult market scenario. As a result, the process is more often about the functional job profiles of a company or a redundant department. Yes, layoffs do happen even in emerging economies with a high demand for talent in the local market.
From the management perspective, there are three biggest reasons that staff is usually laid off. In order of importance, these are:
Market Conditions: the most obvious and common cause for layoffs in the recent years have been market downturns in western countries, wherein management in a majority of the companies has found it un sustainable to maintain the same headcount in different. As a result, almost every large corporation, especially the ones most affected by the advent of technology has laid off at least some of its staff due to market conditions.
Wrongly Aligned Management – Conflict in directions and methodologies between strategic organizational objectives and management operations are the second biggest cause of layoffs in the corporate world. In most cases, the layoffs are a result of conflicts between management and stakeholders, or venture capitalists, case in point being the Indian Food Ordering Startup Tinyowl.com and the food review site Zomato, which hired, and then fired between 200-300 employees within a span of two years.
Part of A Cyclic Corporate Strategy – Some top of the rung organizations reqularly reorganize their headcount to further incentivize the top performers based on merit, as well as weed out non-performers. Some of the biggest names in the corporate sector, such as Microsoft and Intel, are known to have included this practice in their regular employee evaluation process since years.
Why layoffs will become a constant phenomenon-
This is not as surprising as it sounds. A constant stream of new and disruptive technologies have rendered many job skills obsolete in the recent past. Cases in point being the increased acceptance of robotics in manufacturing, new innovations in biotech and healthcare and the advent of Content Management Systems and Automated Website Analytics in the Information Technology sector.
Fighting the Layoff Phenomenon as a Professional – Top 6 Things to do if you’re laid off:
Don’t Lose Your Mind- If there is one crucial takeaway from this knowledge article, it is this: Layoffs are NOT rejections, and there is a difference between being fired and being laid off. In case of the latter, it is simply the job profile and skillset that has been deemed redundant by your employer. It is time to upgrade yourself as a resource.
Acquire New Skills– The interim period between being laid off and the next good opportunity is probably the best time one can use to upgrade one’s professional skills and competencies. This is not only because of the spare time and resources available, there are also some knowledge and psychological factors at play: One has a far better understanding of the market, and knows the latest trends at a practical level as well, and one can, therefore, enhance their professional profiles with the right set of high-demand skills.
Network Even More Extensively- A must-do in practically every step of your career, this is even more so when you are facing the transition period in between your jobs. Extensive networking has manifold benefits for your career; not only will you be well updated of better opportunities, you will also be in the know about the latest news in your profession, which you can use to your advantage.
Handling the Next Interview– Should you tell your next prospective employer that you were laid off? Or would it rather be a better idea to keep the entire thing under wraps and make it look like it was you leaving the job? While the latter is always preferable, in some cases, it may be viable to mention that an exit was a part of a larger cost cutting measure by the company. In any case, industry experts agree that you SHOULD NEVER HIDE THE FACT THAT YOU WERE LAID OFF. Always mention the reason that you are looking for a change at your next interview, and do not speak anything negative about your employer. It is important to remember that they will be judging your attitude and capabilities in handling a difficult scenario and you should not show any bitterness towards your previous employer.
Get Supporting Documentation- Most employees are laid off as a part of a cost cutting measure, and it is important to remember that this is largely due to management failure and not your personal shortcomings. It is unfortunate if you were in the wrong place at the wrong time. To minimize the impact on your resume, ensure that you get a document from your human resources department stating that your layoff was part of a larger management decision, as well as a letter of recommendation from your reporting manager, if possible.
Maintain Beneficial and Non-Proprietary Information- If it is not illegal or unethical, it is fair game. If you’re a salesperson, keep communicating with your current customers; if you’re in business operations, try to make notes of the best practices that your present employer has benefitted from. These would be crucial in your next interviews because they will reflect the immediate tangible value that you can bring to your next employer. Just make sure that none of the information is proprietary or confidential in nature that you may have signed a Non-Disclosure for.
Layoffs, while largely associated with stigma, are also an essential process of management weeding out redundancies and increasing efficiencies, according to industry experts. To know more about this and other enlightening career advice from the leading minds in the industry, check out the Ask Pro platform, brought to you exclusively by Talentedge, India’s leading online education platform that enables you to interact one-on-one with the leading HR experts in the country from any device.