Layoff landscape: starting fresh amidst company downsizing

Jun 05, 2023

4 mins

Layoff landscape: starting fresh amidst company downsizing
Vivian Nunez

Vivian Nunez is a writer, content creator, and mental health podcast host.

2023 has been the year of the layoffs, and we’re only midway through the year. Top companies like Google, Spotify, and Meta have cut a percentage of their staff in the last few months. Yet, intriguingly, these same corporate giants continue to populate job boards and light up social media with hiring ads. The dichotomy might be perplexing, but it underlines a vital aspect of the corporate landscape - layoffs don’t necessarily signify a hiring freeze.

In this seemingly paradoxical scenario, successful candidates can find themselves preparing to walk through the revolving doors of these companies just as seasoned professionals are making an unceremonious exit. This unsettling dynamic can leave incoming employees feeling unsure and even guilty. However, this is precisely the moment to recognize that every challenging situation is also a crucible for growth. Facing this reality head-on with resilience, adaptability, and a sense of optimism is essential for transforming an intimidating situation into a unique career opportunity. As we navigate these turbulent waters, we will delve into strategies to empower you through this complex journey, demonstrating how you can thrive even when the corporate ship seems to be sailing through stormy seas.

What to do if you’re applying to a company that has just laid off employees

While it may feel like bad juju to start a new job while the larger parent company is cutting other departments, the truth is you can only control how you react to the situation at hand. According to LaTrice Huff, Career Coach & Personal Branding Expert at Talent Stays, you want to keep your cool and take a deep breath. “I’d recommend having an open and optimistic mindset when starting a job at a company that has had recent layoffs,” suggests Huff. “We want to come open to learning new things and helping the team. With that being said, still, be on the lookout for red flags. Are staff being overworked and being required to perform tasks outside the scope of their role? Is management unclear about duties and responsibilities after the layoffs?”

Your knee-jerk reaction may be to do more or overperform to help fill any missing gaps, but Huff suggests fighting your instincts, at least for a little bit. “You don’t need to feel the need to overcompensate because of recent layoffs,” explains Huff. “If they hired you, then it’s for a good reason. Be confident in your skills and abilities.”

When to bring up layoffs during your next interview

If you’re just starting to interview for the role and wondering if you should bring up recent layoffs, the short answer is yes. Huff adds some context: “Yes, you should bring up layoffs because you want to know how and why the layoffs were done,” she encourages. “This tells you about the company’s culture and what they value. The response to these questions can make a big difference on if you’ll be a good long-term fit with the company or not.”

Bringing up the conversation will also remind you that you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. You’re navigating the interview process to gain more information about how the company operates and its future goals.

How to ask about new roles in the context of layoffs

In addition to asking questions about the layoffs in general, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask specific questions about how recent layoffs impact the role you’re applying for. “You want to know that this role will be around for at least two years, if not longer,” explains Huff. “A good way to bring this up is to ask how the role fits into the long-term vision or mission of the company. But also keep in mind that managers cannot 100% guarantee that a role will always be around. That’s why asking about how the role aligns with the company’s goals is helpful.”

Other questions you can ask during the interview process include:

  • What care was put into recent decisions the company made?
  • How is the current team reevaluating priorities or structure after layoffs?
  • How will this role fit into the team as it stands and develops?
  • Can you walk me through the expectations for the role, especially in the context of a smaller team?

Huff suggests also meeting your future team during the interview process as this can help offer more context on the company’s culture and how employees who have remained feel overall.

“Usually, team members are much more honest about what’s really going on at a company than the hiring manager,” she explains. “How a company lays people off says a lot about its culture and priorities. Remember, you can stop the interview at any time.” Don’t forget that even if you land a role at a company that has experienced recent layoffs, you can still be extremely valuable and have long-term success there.

Preparing to hit the ground running in your new job

Starting a job at a company where layoffs have occurred is not that different from starting a job at any other company. Your goal should be to put your best foot forward and own the role you were hired to fill. “To demonstrate your value to the organization, doing your job and doing it well is the first step,” explains Huff. “Solving problems, even long-standing ones, is impactful to organizations. Sometimes as a new person, you can see quick solutions to problems that have been going on for years. Don’t be scared to speak up, solve a problem and make things easier for your team and manager.”

And when it comes to your coworkers, the best way to start establishing positive relationships is to treat it like a friendly relationship. “To best develop trust and camaraderie with your team or fellow coworkers, first take the time to personally introduce yourself to each member of the team,” explains Huff. “I’d recommend more than the standard ‘I’m the new _blank_’ group email. Personally reach out to your team members and let them know you’re here to help. Also, think about having formal and informal meetings with your co-workers. Get to know them, but don’t get into the drama of layoffs. Show them that you’re there to do your job and make things easier for them. Trust takes time, but small steps go a long way.”

Deciding to avoid discussing layoffs with your new team doesn’t immediately imply that you won’t be thinking about it incessantly or that you’ll avoid spiraling into imposter syndrome altogether. If thoughts like, “Why did I get the job when others just got laid off?” pop up, Huff has a good piece of advice you can hold onto. “It’s normal to have some feelings of guilt if you start a new job that others have recently been laid off from,” explains Huff. “With that being said, you can’t control anyone else’s career but your own. Make the best of your current situation, treat yourself, and celebrate landing a new role.”

Photo: Welcome to the Jungle

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