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Finding a New Job via Social Media After a Layoff

A man using a smartphone while sitting at a desk.

​When employees were let go from a job in the past, they would usually search for a new position fairly quietly, not sharing publicly what had happened. But as layoffs start to emerge in the current economy, fewer people are being shy about sharing their situations online. Some have even learned to reap benefits from going public about career setbacks.

Consider Ryan Knoll, owner of Tidy Casa, a home cleaning company in Phoenix with 40 employees. Before he started his own business, he was an employee, and the last time he was let go from a job, he went on social media to talk about it.

"I got a new job after only two weeks because of a Facebook post about the situation," he said.

Connor Ondriska, CEO of SpanishVIP, an online training company based in Toronto, experienced something similar when he was let go from a job and announced the news online.

"I have only ever been laid off from one position," he said. "It was used as the catalyst for going full time on my business. [I posted] on social media [about it] and how I was going full time on that project. I informed my previous business associates of the career trajectory change. It was well-received, and I had a fair amount of support in the way of new customers."

Knoll and Ondriska, along with other HR professionals and business leaders, said employees should overcome any embarrassment they feel about losing their jobs, especially as the economy falters. Though it bucks tradition, sharing their situations on social media can help them spread the message that they are searching for new opportunities.

For Knoll, posting his story online was highly beneficial. "Letting people know you're looking for work opens the door for them to ask," he said. "Never assume people will know what's going on in your life if you don't tell them. I know several people in my network I'd hire in a minute if I knew they were looking. You never know who may think of you, so don't be afraid to tell people what you need and be vulnerable."

Dannie Fountain, a senior software engineering sourcer at Google in Seattle, said announcing your job loss online can be a smart move.  

"[Candidates are] certainly not alone, as there are layoffs being announced every day, and often the power of social media, especially LinkedIn, can help land them a new role," she said. "An announcement like this can benefit them through targeted outreach and social media sharing that comes from publicly announcing."

Matt Hoffman, partner and head of talent at consumer technology venture capital firm M13 in Los Angeles, shared a similar sentiment. "Employers understand that there are a number of reasons why someone might be let go, and poor performance is not always the primary one," Hoffman said. "The more people talk openly about being laid off, the more it becomes normalized and is just another part of the employee life cycle."

Natalie Fell, an HR and operations expert at a small-business advisory firm in Philadelphia, agreed that putting the message out there is a good idea. But, she added, proceed with caution.

"Getting laid off can be a delicate subject," she said. "There's often a stigma attached, which could paint you in a bad light." 

What Not to Do When Posting About a Layoff 

There are ways for job seekers to post information about being laid off without hurting their chances of finding another position. Fell believes that posting an announcement on social media channels may not be the best plan of action. Instead, candidates should send private messages to their network of contacts.

"You never know who's going to see a broad announcement, so sending it only to people you approve of is a much better way to let everyone know what's going on," she said. "A broad announcement of your layoff may also hinder your chances of getting a new job, as potential employers often do their research before hiring. Even if you getting laid off had nothing to do with your performance, it does tend to carry a bit of a stigma, unfortunately."

Operations supervisor Sara Bandurian, who works at a small advertising agency in New Orleans, said that when posting, "you should avoid saying anything negative about your previous employer. These comments could come back later and hurt your career or your chances of being hired down the line."

She added, "Although you may no longer be loyal to your previous employer, all companies look for professionalism and respect in how employees treat other companies and employees." 

What to Do When Posting About a Layoff 

A smart approach is for candidates to couple their layoff announcement with a "what I am looking for" post, which includes sharing the type of roles they are seeking, when they are available to talk and how to reach them, Fountain said. 

"It's the initial layoff post that is likely to get the most engagement on LinkedIn and other platforms, so by optimizing that initial post, all of that engagement can be channeled into finding the next role," she said. "Optimizing the announcement is critical, but there are emotional, psychological and practical components of an announcement. Are you emotionally ready to weed through comments on the post? Are you practically ready for the job hunt process? It's OK to delay your announcement a few days, or over the weekend, for preparedness purposes."

When posting the announcement on social media, candidates should be ready to market their skills, experience and passions to increase their chances of getting hired, Hoffman agreed. 

"Are there examples of successes you're most proud of? What type of work would get you most excited? What type of company? Include that in your social media post," Hoffman said. "Employers want to see that candidates are deeply invested in the mission of their company and should authentically know what they are looking for next and why."

Candidates must also ensure that their social media profiles and resumes are updated with their latest job history. "You will want to make sure your resume is accurate, as inconsistencies in your job history there are taken more seriously," Fell said.

Ondriska added that honesty is the best policy when discussing a layoff. This means candidates should be honest about their previous experience, any mistakes they made and the ways in which they've improved. 

"Communicate this information with confidence and integrity," he said. "Show that you can be adaptive and proactive by coming to your interview prepared. Read up on the company and team you may be working with to get a pulse on what they're building."

And, of course, it's important for candidates to have a positive attitude even though they've been let go. "Don't take things personally when it comes to business," Ondriska said. "Do your best to learn from every experience."

Kylie Ora Lobell is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.


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