Are Layoff Lists Helpful to Employees?

A young Black woman leads her team in a project meeting

By

Robyn Kern

Categories

With the many layoffs taking place, particularly in the tech space, companies are using a variety of strategies to help their impacted employees. In the case of DoorDash layoffs, Tony Xu, CEO, announced that the company would create an opt-in directory for employers to source the talent, and also provide recruiting assistance. In the past few years, layoff lists have become a trend, especially in the tech industry. But are layoff lists helpful to employees who have been laid off? While they can be beneficial in some instances, and certainly shouldn’t hurt an individual’s chances of finding new work, layoff lists don’t address the many needs of the newly unemployed.

Let’s take a look at how this strategy can and can’t help.

How Layoff Lists Can Help Employees

Layoff lists can help both employees and their former employers in just a few very specific ways:

  • For a short window of time (maybe as little as a day), the impacted employees are promoted online to the company’s network to offer recruiters and hiring managers direct connections and access to laid off employees 
  • The sometimes taboo feeling associated with being laid off can be alleviated by being part of a larger list that’s being recommended to outside employers
  • The company, by publicly displaying support for the employees, gains short-term credibility as a caring employer

Why Layoff Lists Alone Aren’t Much Help to Employees or Employers

Because so few impacted employees are likely to be contacted by potential employers, the layoff list alone isn’t enough to help the majority of individuals get new work. And as a result, the brand protection it offers the employer is short-lived at best. Not only are the laid-off individuals likely to see the assistance provided by their former employer as inadequate, but the remaining employees’ positive opinion of their organization may also be diminished. With so many unhappy current and former employees taking their views to sites like Glassdoor and LinkedIn, the employer’s image could be tarnished fairly quickly, making retention and talent acquisition more challenging.

In an ideal scenario, the many tech companies (and those from other industries) seeking talented employees from the high profile organization would request the layoff list or access it from one of the many LinkedIn posts promoting it. They’d scan it for the roles they’re hiring, look up the LinkedIn profiles (which would already have the information about the candidate that they need), and contact those individuals for interviews. And (because this is an ideal scenario) since the employees would have excellent phone, videoconference, and in-person presence, they’d be offered work. Everyone is taken care of and happy. The laid off employees post comments on their former employer’s Glassdoor profile about their amazing experiences resulting from the layoff lists. The employer is a hero!

In a more realistic scenario, here’s what happens: The list is posted on LinkedIn. That day, recruiters browse and contact a small percentage of professionals on the list and then make a mental note to come back to the list when they have other openings to fill that match others on the list. They may or may not remember the list when a job vacancy arises. After connecting with the employees on the list, the interview may not be successful without proper preparation. After being laid off, employees can feel a lack of confidence, and may stumble through questions about the layoff. In addition, if they haven’t interviewed in some time, they’ll be rusty and will need to rehearse answers to industry-specific and even common interview questions. In the end, many employees will have to continue their job searches on their own. And with the continued stress that unemployment brings, so does the opportunity for bad reviews of how their former employer let them go without much assistance. 

If the goal of creating a layoff list is to offer a genuine means of connecting impacted employees to new opportunities, employers need to recognize that a layoff list is not helpful as a primary  strategy, nor should it be considered a benefit, when managing a reduction in force.

So what is helpful to the laid-off employee?

Employees can feel unmoored when they are laid off, especially when the layoff is unexpected. The most helpful way to support them is with a solution that effectively helps them find their next opportunity. That means taking into consideration the varied levels of guidance they may need in their job search, with resources, tools, and live one-on-one interaction with an expert career coach. Outplacement is the solution that will provide this type of support in the following ways.

A graphic of a man typing on a laptop with question marks superimposed, representing an assessment to help a laid off employee identify interests and strengthsAn effective way to target relevant employers and explore different industries and/or careers

Employees most desired employers may not access the layoff list, and some employees may also not yet have an idea of which employers would be the right fit for their corporate culture preferences, goals, and work styles. Some may benefit from changing industries or roles entirely, but not know where to start and may feel uncertain as to whether their experience is transferable.

Assessments and exercises can help laid off individuals to identify areas of interest and the skills and strengths that transcend industries and roles. However, an outplacement career coach can be even more beneficial in this area, not only by making suggestions of how to leverage the results of the assessments, but also by offering a personalized approach that meets the individual where they are. In doing so, the coach can create a strategy, including networking, potential upskilling, and positioning and branding, for the individual to find the right role, whether in the same or a different industry. Career coaches can also help create a strategy to research and target companies that suit the employees’ wants and needs.

Guidance on transitioning to retirement

Sometimes an employee takes their experience of being laid off as an opportunity to reflect and consider retirement. Retirement can be a challenging adjustment for those unprepared for it, and layoff lists won’t be any help for anyone looking to make that transition. Many newly retired people find it difficult to adjust to life after retirement and be unaware of the possibilities that exist, including part-time work, volunteering, board opportunities, classes, and more. A retirement specialist can help guide them through their many considerations, including finances and personal wellbeing, and help them transition more easily into life after full-time work.

Graphic of a man writing his resume on a laptopHelp writing a resume

Employers using the layoff list to contact laid off employees won’t ask them for a resume, right? Uh, wrong. But that’s okay, since every employee on that list has a stellar resume, written to current best practices. In an ideal world, anyway. ?

In the real world, however, recommended formats and guidelines around resumes frequently change. No matter how recently an employee has updated their resume, having it reviewed by a professional is a wise decision before beginning a new job search. Assuming the individual will need to do some of their own job searching (if the layoff list doesn’t immediately result in a desirable job offer), they’ll also want to make sure that their resume is optimized for applicant tracking system (ATS) filters. In fact, they may want to develop a few versions of their resume in order to best target different roles or types of companies. An expert resume writer and career coach would be a valuable partner in this area to ensure the impacted employee is putting their best self forward to potential employers.

Help with personal branding and networking

For the majority who don’t successfully find work through a layoff list, personal branding and networking skills are vital to a job search. 

Even for the employee who scores an interview through the layoff list, they’ll need to ensure that their LinkedIn profile is up-to-date. In many cases, some members of the hiring team may only look at an applicant’s LinkedIn profile before an interview. They get an email with the candidate’s name and then head over to LinkedIn to scan the candidate’s bio, titles and previous employers before the meeting. If the LinkedIn profile doesn’t accurately and positively reflect the candidate’s experience and skills, the interviews may not begin on the right note or may go in the wrong direction completely. 

No matter how someone goes about their job search, having a well-written LinkedIn profile can help them get noticed by those who may aid them in getting them hired, whether that be recruiters, hiring managers, former colleagues, etc.

As 85% of jobs are filled through networking, laid off employees need to have these important social skills. They should also know how to pitch themselves to potential employers or those with connections, and be able to represent their professional backgrounds in the most positive and relevant light in order to increase their chances of finding desirable employment. These are all areas that outplacement programs can help with. From workshops to career coaching, individuals can get support that will help them not only find work but excel in building and maintaining professional relationships in general.

Graphic of a man checking off a list and signing his signatureInterview techniques, practice, and feedback

Even if an impacted employee is found by an employer via the layoff list, they may still need help with interviewing, as many job seekers do, and especially those who traditionally work in roles that don’t require much face-to-face interaction or social skills. Interviews are inherently uncomfortable and anxiety-producing situations for many. After all, when the stakes are high—such as those for getting the perfect (or any) new job—the pressure is on to perform. Having resources that help individuals feel more comfortable with interviewing, such as an interactive video interview practice tool and a career coach for role playing and feedback, are invaluable to the success of a job search. 

An empathetic ear, encouragement, and support

No matter what type of assistance is provided to employees when they’re laid off, the layoff itself can be stressful and have many repercussions. The laid-off individual may experience financial and emotional strain, feelings of loss and confusion, and overwhelm over the need to start over. An experienced outplacement career coach can help that employee move forward with a positive outlook and provide support and resources to help with these areas, as well as a workable strategy to find meaningful new work. When an individual doesn’t have to go through the job search alone, they’re more likely to find work quickly—and less likely to spend time dwelling on their layoff experience with their former employer.

So What’s the Verdict? Are Layoff Lists Helpful to Impacted Employees?

For the layoff lists to be effective in helping employees AND helping the employer maintain or repair their reputation following a layoff, they should be supplemented with outplacement in order to achieve the employer’s goals of increasing speed to hire. With workshops, guides, online learning, job alerts, resume writing, social media branding, interview practice, retirement and entrepreneurship guidance and more—plus, encouragement, advice, and feedback provided by an experienced coach—outplacement offers everything a laid off employee needs to find the job they want (or retire happily, or start a business) quickly and successfully.

The more supported employees feel following a layoff, the more likely it is that an employer will manage to avert negative repercussions to its reputation as a result of the layoffs. By using an outplacement provider offering affordable, flexible, and personalized services, the real world for both the employer and former employees becomes a friendlier, more optimistic place. INTOO’s outplacement program helps employees transition to new jobs through an unlimited number of hours of one-on-one, on-demand coaching from premier career counselors, resume reviews, and other career services. Learn more about how our outplacement program can benefit your company when you’re transitioning employees.

Robyn Kern

Robyn Kern is a seasoned business writer who has written in the HR, education, technology, and nonprofit spaces. She writes about topics including outplacement, layoffs, career development, internal mobility, candidate experience, succession planning, talent acquisition, and more, with the goal of surfacing workforce trends and educating the HR community on these key topics. Her work has been featured on hrforhr.org and trainingindustry.com.

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