What To Say When You Get Laid Off

Suppose you get laid off and someone asks why you’re out of work. It’s important that your explanation be impersonal. That means not blaming yourself or others.

It’s also good to keep your answer short. The less said the better. A career counselor I once knew suggested saying something like this: “An economic decision was made, hundreds of jobs were eliminated (assuming this was true), and mine was one of them.

Or, if it was just your job, try this: “An economic decision was made due to the difficult financial outlook for our industry and our company.”

One sentence. Impersonal. “An economic decision was made.” You can’t get more impersonal than that. You’re not even saying who made the decision; it could have been the boss, the company president, or a random economist who just happened to be in the neighborhood.

Basically, this decision was so impersonal that it could have made itself.


Consultant, author, speaker, and founder of express potential® (www.expresspotential.com), Paul Hellman has worked with CEOs, executives, and managers at leading companies for over 25 years to improve performance and productivity at work. His latest book is “Naked at Work: How to Stay Sane When Your Job Drives You Crazy,” and his columns have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post and other leading papers.

Comments? Send them to executivecareers@cnbc.com