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Recessions tend to push hardworking people into two groups. On the one hand, is the layoff survivor handling the load of multiple former employees. On the other is the hyperqualified, abruptly laid-off job seeker who needs to explain the abrupt ending to their tenure. Different destinies but both types tend to struggle with how to present these career changes on their resumes.

Here are some tips:

Laid off or let go?

Tell the truth. Otherwise you risk the job-hopper label. And in fact, there’s no shame in being laid off. During downturns in the economy, organizations shrink, morph, or disappear. So include a one-liner that details the company’s cutbacks. That will keep the “blame” for your departure on your employer, not you. Give the percentage of people that were let go along with you; mention that your boss was laid off, too; brag about surviving previous rounds of downsizing. If appropriate, divulge that the company may have made a poor strategic decision.


Clarify the gobbling order. It’s common nowadays for a company to have changed hands (and names) several times. For a single acquisition, state the current name of the organization with the name of the acquired firm in parentheses. This way, a potential employer can research your company without hitting dead-ends. For multiple acquisitions, lead in with a short paragraph that describes the evolution of the organization and how your position has fluctuated as a result. Remember, being retained through a series of restructurings implies that you’re deeply valued.


Categorize your achievements. Hanging on after layoffs usually means that your workload has doubled or tripled-great for your career but often difficult to present on a resume, because too many bullet points is the kiss of death. So include only the information that’s relevant to your career objective. Then, if necessary, use bold subheads under your official position title to delineate the different genres of your accomplishments. Consider alluding to increases in responsibility, noting when and why you were selected to handle mission-critical projects.

There’s always a way to explain things. And it’s always better to be honest. Be well.

top 2 April 2020 | Career Transition, Job Hunting in a Recession, Job Market, Resumes