This Ain't Your 1990s Resume: What to Do If You're Laid Off

You're among the 15.3 million unemployed in the United States right now. And it stinks. You've sent out 150 résumés, you're trying to stay positive, but your layoff situation is not getting better. Here's a question: how have you addressed your layoff on your resume? We looked to Sarina LaMarche, senior career coach at Austin, TX-based Career Strategists, for advice.

1. Laid off on paper.

Hopefully you haven't been on your couch eating bonbons, wasting the days watching daytime TV. Never come out and say you were laid off on your resume. Your resume isn't your life story. LaMarche encourages clients to view their resume as a strategic marketing tool. It's an ad for you, not your biography. If there is a long or sporadic break, then create a functional resume that highlights your skills and competencies.

2. What if you stayed home with the kids?

According to LaMarche, job seekers who are re-entering the workforce after an extended break due to child or elder care should not be embarrassed about explaining their career time line. They should, however, focus on clearly articulating the skill-building that took place during this time as well as any professional, leadership development or training they completed (formal and informal).

3. Are you a "Professional Networker (wink wink)?"

Should you be witty on your resume if you've been laid off to cover the time? LaMarche says it depends. "Always err on the professional side. There are some fields, like advertising, where creativity might be rewarded in this instance," she says. "In general though, it's always better to be over-dressed than under-dressed. You want to make a positive impression and be conscious about how you're perceived."

4. In the hot seat. You got the interview!

LaMarche says most job seekers have some shortcoming in their work history or on their resume (a gap, missing a position qualification) so a prepared response regarding a layoff is essential. Answers about gaps or layoffs should be direct, honest and to the point, while highlighting any strengths or positives that came from the situation. Also, make sure you maintain neutral language and tone--you don't want to criticize your former employer.

5. Does it matter if you were fired vs. laid off?

Not really. Everyone knows someone who's lost a job in some way these days. LaMarche asks, "The question is, how will you respond to this change-as a block to overcome or a challenge that made you stronger and wiser?"

Read Full Story