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Find way to work mid-application layoff into conversation

Dear J.T. & Dale: I started looking for work late last summer when I realized my company would have a restructuring, and I would likely lose my position as an executive. Soon after, I started a very long interviewing process with a well-known company. It’s been a three-month-long interview process, but I believe they’re close to making me an offer. Meanwhile, I was laid off. It’s been two months since I got laid off, and I’ve not brought this up to the new company. My concern is that they think I’m still working and now that I’m not, they’ll think I’m a liar. What should I do? – Gayle

J.T.: Unfortunately, we can’t go back in time here. The lesson learned is that when you were let go, you should have worked it into the conversation in one of your subsequent interviews. Now it’s a little late.

DALE: Hold on. The key word in your question, Gayle, is “think,” as in, you’re worried that the prospective employers might think you lied to them. But you didn’t lie. So no need to be feeling guilty. If you give in to feeling guilty, and the topic ever comes up, the hiring manager will sense your self-reproach, and doubts are contagious.

J.T.: OK, do it with a clear conscience, but if there is a final round of interviews, I would find the right time to mention the layoff. If not, and you get the offer, you may want to consider telling them, especially if they are going to be doing a background check (which could show that you no longer are getting paid by your previous employer). If they make you an offer, say something like: “While I’m sure it doesn’t make a difference, I want to let you know that my employment with my company ended while we were in the middle of this hiring process. I didn’t feel that that should be a factor in the decision, and I hope that it isn’t.”

DALE: While I share the concern about a background check, even that explanation carries a hint of defensiveness. So, wait till you get the job offer and then say: “This worked out great. I started looking for something new when I saw that my old company was in trouble. And was it – they’ve had massive layoffs.” And then you might mention your place in the layoffs – or not – depending on the flow of conversation. But do not forget this: You not only did nothing wrong; you were smart and proactive and did everything right.

Dear J.T. & Dale: I want to relocate across the country. What is the best way to get a job so I can move? – Jalen

J.T.: Given a pandemic and an economic crisis, there isn’t a single employer right now that is going to pay for you to relocate. In fact, they’re not even going to consider you unless they know 100% that you are already living there or are definitely moving there. My advice is to pick a date that you plan to move there and stick to it.

DALE: Yes, unless you have skills in short supply, you’re going to have to identify yourself as imminently local. Employers not only don’t want to pay for your move, they know that a good percentage of relocations don’t work out, not because of anything within the employer’s control, but because the new hire gets homesick or just doesn’t care for the area. That’s why you need to assert that you’re moving there and, ideally, be able to articulate why – relatives in the town, went to college nearby or whatever. The good news is that being about to relocate does have advantages. Most people feel a bit of hometown boosterism, and you can tap into that connection.

How to figure out who to talk to in the new city? There’s a great YouTube video on exactly how to make those connections, and the video is by someone you can trust, my writing partner, J.T. (Just go to YouTube and search for “J.T. O’Donnell on Long Distance Job Search.”)

Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a career coach and the founder of the leading career site Dale Dauten is founder of The Innovators’ Lab and author of a novel about H.R., “The Weary Optimist.” Please visit them at, where you can send questions via email, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803.(c) 2020 by King Features Syndicate Inc.


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