How to (Sensitively) Recruit Laid-Off Professionals
These are challenging times in the U.S. workforce. In the last few months of 2022, numerous U.S. companies announced mass layoffs, a trend that’s yet to slow down in 2023. These layoffs have cut across sectors from finance to manufacturing, but the tech sector has been hit especially hard. Companies have cited poor economic growth, rising labor costs, and a looming recession as reasons, despite data showing strong GDP and companies beating earnings estimates. People experiencing layoffs have been left confused and uneasy.
Deciding to recruit laid-off talent is a great way to increase organizational efficiency and advocate for people at the same time. Simply put, companies that intentionally and sensitively recruit laid-off professionals have the first pick of top talent for the 10.4 million job openings in the U.S. today. Below, we’ve rounded up five guideposts for pouring your hiring resources into hiring from laid-off candidate pools — something that will benefit both your organization and these talented, available professionals.
Be open-minded, and check your bias.
To recruit laid-off professionals, you need to be open-minded. Forty percent of Americans have been laid off from a job at least once, and most people are laid off for reasons entirely unrelated to their performance. But despite these widespread truths, a weird stigma around layoffs can persist. One study found that laid-off workers are perceived as lacking in skills and abilities. This stigma is more detrimental to laid-off marginalized workers, older workers, and those who have been unemployed for longer periods of time.
If a candidate says they were laid-off, accept it for what it is — an unfortunate reality that has happened to millions of people — and move on. Don’t push or probe into “why” they were laid-off. Most people had no control over their job being cut. It’s that simple.
Hiring laid-off talent is also an opportunity to embrace diversity and focus on inclusive hiring, for all kinds of candidates. How?
- Make age-diverse teams a priority: Renovate your hiring process through the lens of generational diversity and inclusion.
- Use “blind hiring” practices: Remove dates, images, or other indicators of age from applications.
- Ensure that job descriptions are free from biased language: Avoid terms like “digital native” and “social-media savvy.”
Showcase your inclusive company culture.
Hiring after layoffs is an opportunity to showcase your inclusive company culture. Being laid-off is a challenging, vulnerable, and often deeply emotional experience. And that can be a difficult place to start a job search from. That said, it’s the perfect time for a company focused on belonging to show up and attract new hires in a welcoming way.
Yes, candidates are looking for good salaries, but increasingly they’re looking for a workplace where they belong, feel safe, and are supported. Globally, 86% of candidates say diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace is important.
Show candidates that your company is a great place to work. Make sure you have a positive candidate experience, encompassing everything from inclusive job descriptions to a straightforward, responsive application process. Your recruitment materials as well as your company branding should have images and videos reflecting the kind of diversity you’re looking to attract.
Offer more than just salary.
To recruit laid-off professionals, offer more than just a salary. The 2022 MetLife Employee Benefits Study found that flexibility is a critical workforce trend, with seven in 10 employees ranking flexible benefits supporting work-life balance as most attractive. To successfully recruit laid-off talent, highlight flexibility in where they work (home, office, hybrid), when they work (flexible hours, dynamic PTO), and even how they work.
Laid-off employees may experience a sense of unease and less trust with future employers. In your layoff recruitment efforts, meet a variety of candidate needs through your benefits. Important benefits to attract candidates include:
- Reproductive health benefits
- Paid family leave
- Mental health support
Reach out, but be sensitive.
Recruiting after layoffs means you need to be proactive. Don’t wait for laid-off talent to contact you! Reach out on LinkedIn or on career platforms like PowerToFly to candidates who have been laid off and let them know you’re hiring. Consider offering the LinkedIn Easy Apply function in these cases.
One study found that being laid off is the seventh most stressful life event a person can experience — more so than divorce or serious illness. When you recruit laid-off professionals, understand that they have just been devastated. Be sensitive and empathize with their situation. Let them know you’re here to help. In a direct message, be encouraging right away:
- “I see you’ve recently been let go. That’s tough. You must be going through a lot. I’m hiring right now and we need your talent.”
Keep your ear to the ground.
If you want the first pick when hiring laid-off talent, stay up-to-date on the news. As recession continues to loom in the U.S. economy, expect to see more layoffs. Stay ahead of the curve by setting up alerts on Google and Twitter for trending keywords.
Alerts on Google. You will receive an email when a keyword or topic of your choice has new results on Google. Here’s how to set up Google alerts:
- Go to google.com/alerts
- In the text box, type “company layoff” or “layoffs”
- Click “show options” to edit settings like frequency of notifications, language, region, what account gets the alert, etc.
- Click “create alert”
Bingo! You’ll receive an email if there is news around layoffs, giving you the opportunity to reach out to someone who needs a job.
Alerts on Twitter. Back in June 2022, there were reports of a new Twitter feature called “search subscribe” that would allow users to receive a push notification for new activity on certain topics. That feature hasn’t appeared yet, so the best workaround is using a third-party app such as IFTTT. This walk through will help you set up notifications on Twitter via IFTTT.
Remember that when you recruit laid-off professionals, you need to be sensitive to the general environment of stress that’s created from being laid off. Knowing the current events shaping today’s workforce will give you the background to approach candidates from a place of understanding.
Recruit laid-off professionals to advocate for employees.
The decision to recruit laid-off professionals is an opportunity to increase your efficiency, further your DEIB goals, and put people first. Hiring laid-off talent means you need proactive communication, sensitive delivery, a recruitment and hiring process with reduced bias, and an inclusive workplace.