Downsizing, restructuring, workforce reduction, realignment, these are words that pull at all emotions: anger, sadness, disappointment, fear, and feeling lost.
Usually, we tell stories about bringing talent into the organization. This story, however, is about helping those affected by the layoff find external roles outside the organization.
“We built training classes, a job placement program, career advising sessions, and I added all the resources I had found to the pool, giving our employees, teammates, and friends something you rarely see in a layoff.”
“But then several unexpected things happened.”
I remember one individual in particular: we were going over ways to respond positively to the interview question, “What’s something you didn’t like about your previous employer?”
He said, “The fact I don’t work there anymore.” But then he went into detail about the team he worked with, the struggles he and his wife had been through with illness, how much the organization wasn’t just a company, but it was the one organization that he’s wanted to work for (and enjoyed over decades).
“Like that, answer the question exactly like that,” I said. It’s who he was, an entirely honest answer, no negativity, and all heart. There were tears that day, but there were laughs too, and that group even exchanged emails and contact info afterwards making a job search “task force.” They built a social network mere seconds after our classes ended. I was at a total loss for words. In fact, that moment changed me, probably forever.
“Everyone has similar stories.”
I talked to someone who started as a secretary and worked for us for 20 years, who had no idea how to draft a resume or search LinkedIn. I helped her see all the changes and adapting she’s done regarding company protocols and systems coming and going. She left knowing that this is just another adjustment and was very appreciative of the program.
I talked to a guy with a military background, who led 50 people and was just starting his role in the civilian world. I told him about Clearance Jobs and Rallypoint, two places I’ve sourced for military candidates. I showed him how to cross reference contacts on LinkedIn, and how to use Boolean logic to pull more accurate search results.
I talked to an architect about construction, LinkedIn, and Archinect. A day later, the guy has a fully updated Linkedin profile with a list of all the projects he’s worked on including what industry. It looked impressive.
More importantly, I learn from these people: what challenges are out there, where to locate the best place to search for jobs or social network to tap. I have a much different perspective on what’s truly important. I got into recruiting because I enjoyed helping people find jobs, but by drawing on our tools and our personal experiences, we can help job seekers on a whole other level.
I was given nothing when I was laid off; I was a name on a list. I felt like nothing, small and expendable.
However, we gave our laid off cohorts tools, resources, resume advice, job search strategies, notice of job fairs, the top companies hiring, and a growing list of organizations open to helping. There is no way I was going to allow anyone to have the experience I had at the last place. I lost friends and teammates, and they aren’t a name on a list to me, because each one is a real live person who needs help.
This experience changed me and changed my entire perspective. I realised I’m more than just a recruiter. I’m a builder, a fixer, and a connector. When I talk to you, it’s because I want to help. It’s human kindness.
Author: Selina Gao, Plusser Blogger based in Manchester