How to Get Hired after a Layoff

Having trouble getting your career back on track after a layoff?  

A few years ago, I woke up one morning after being laid off and realized that I had to start taking more control of my career by becoming more proactive and less reactive. Through a journey of trial and errors, I learned a lot about how to build my personal brand after a layoff, customize my resume and tell my story to hiring managers.  

I went on to work for 3 Fortune 500 companies, and had a 6-figure salary and status I never would have dreamed of.  In my new book, “The Bounce Back – personal stories of bouncing back higher and faster after a layoff, re-org or career setback” I reveal the success strategies from myself and 13 other professionals and executives who bounced back after a setback.  Below are a few of the strategies from the book about how to get hired after a layoff –

1. Telling your story to hiring managers.

The best approach is to always say something positive about your previous position. Talk about how it was either a great company, or how much you enjoyed your role and responsibilities. Make sure that you always have something positive to say about the experience, that you truly believe it and that you are genuine when you talk about it.
Also, if the lay-off had been due to company down-sizing, follow up by saying something like, “Unfortunately, the company went through tough economic times and my position was (cut, outsourced, or whatever.) If the lay-off was due to lack of performance, like the time I was hired at an Advertising Agency where I was expected to do the job of two people, then you can say something like, “I didn’t realize when I took the position that I was expected to fill the shoes of two employees. Even though I had some big results and was good at my job, I just simply couldn’t fill both of their shoes.”

2. Customize your resume.

You’ll need to customize your resume for every job you go after. Create a new section on your resume called, Freelance, Consulting and Short-term Positions, and put any of your short term job stints into this section. This way, you’re able to show that you’ve had long term employment with 3-4 companies, plus a few other gigs!

Whenever a potential employer asks you about any of the positions in that category, you can say something like, “I worked there for a few months and really enjoyed it! I learned such and such“, or “I contributed by doing this or that.” Make sure that what you say is always positive, and focused on what you learned or how you contributed.

Also, be sure to focus on results. Instead of writing about responsibilities, you’ll need to write about results you achieved or goals you had met or exceeded. Substantiate everything you write by adding dollars, numbers or percentages. This will show potential employers that you’ve had a history, or pattern of achieving quantifiable results.

3. Securing job leads, referrals and recommendations.

Today, the majority of new employees got their new job because they knew someone inside the company who could give them a positive referral.  This means you’ll need to set aside any feelings of  insecurity, and reach out to connect with your network.   I always called up past employers, managers and customers to catch up with them and let them know that I was ready for the next chapter in my career. I got out in the world and networked and socialized. It helped me build my confidence, practice telling my story and helped me learn about career opportunities.

You can prepare for interviews by practicing your story out loud, and be sure to talk about what you’ve learned and how you added value to other organizations. Ask thoughtful questions to the hiring manager. Be confident in your strengths and abilities. Show that you’re grateful and appreciative for the opportunities you’ve had in your career.

Networking can happen at any time. One of my clients entered a golf tournament and got paired up with a VP of a large retail corporation. They both shared stories about their golf game and career. After the 18th hole, my client handed the VP his business card and said, “If anything opens up in your organization, let me know. I’d love to join your team.” Four weeks later the VP hired him.

With the right story, resume and attitude you can get hired again. Decide how you’re going to tell your career story and tell it in the most positive way possible. Practice saying it out loud so that you sound confident, believable and genuinely authentic during your interviews and networking opportunities.

Your new career is out there waiting for you… you just need to go get it!   🙂
Sherri Thomas is a Career Strategist, international speaker and best-selling author of The Bounce Back” and Career Smart – 5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand. “ Get more tips and strategies on how you can bounce back from a layoff, re-org, bad manager or other career threatening setback in my new book, “The Bounce Back” now available on AMAZON and BARNES & NOBLE. You can download three FREE chapters of THE BOUNCE BACK at

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Strategies for Staying Employed Longer (part 2)

In addition to being a jack-of-all-trades, you want to position yourself as an expert or the “go to” person in at least one specialized area. Carve out a niche for yourself. This is how you can become invaluable to an organization.


Take one of your natural talents or areas of interest and then learn everything you can through training, books, and mentors. When you become “the source” for information, and share your knowledge freely with others you’re not only helping advance your department, but you’re also making yourself sticky and indispensable to that organization.


Be a resource to others. People are the jet fuel behind your career. They can promote you, hire you, or introduce you to others who could potentially hire you. The key is to build and nurture a powerful professional network before asking for anything in return such as a plum project, key assignment, job lead, or recommendation.


Professionals are naturally drawn to those who are well informed and well connected. Be sure to tell your network about new technologies, events, professional opportunities, and news and information that may interest them. Send out quick e-mails with links to books, white papers, press releases, news articles, or websites.


Want more strategies for staying employed longer?

Recent Interview on NBC Channel 12 Phoenix

Reinventing Yourself & Your Career (part 2)

Continuing with the Reinventing Yourself & Your Career Series, I have even more tips from my personal 5-step blueprint for reinventing your career more quickly, easily and maybe even with a higher salary!


  • Match your transferable skills to job roles – Read job descriptions posted on, and, as well as the classified ads in industry magazines, trade journals, and local newspapers. If you want to work for a specific company then check out their website’s on-line job postings. Learn the skills and qualifications required for various job roles.

Match your transferable skills to those jobs you want to go after. If there’s a gap between the job requirements and the skills you have, then look for ways to gain that experience such as taking on an extended assignment in your current job, freelancing, consulting, or even volunteering.


Also, attend industry conferences, trade shows, business networking events and association meetings. Talk to people who work in the industry to learn about their career path, responsibilities, and advice for how to break into the business.

  • Blow up your resume. The first thing I always did before I transitioned into a new career was blow up my resume. Trying to piece together a resume that highlighted the skills I used to get my last job with the skills I need to land my next job is like trying to weld together Lexus parts on a BMW. It doesn’t work. You need a brand new resume.

Showcase only those jobs, responsibilities and successes that are relevant to the job you want. The hiring manager doesn’t care about every job you’ve ever had. They just want to know, Can you do their job? Get resume help now.

  • Attitude is king! That comes from knowing what we’re capable of doing. When you transition into a new job role or a new company, you need to show the hiring manager that you have confidence in yourself and know that you’ll be successful in the job. When it comes to reinventing your career, it’s not just your talent but your attitude that counts!


Remember, there is life after a lay-off! And the good news is that you’ve been given a clean slate to reinvent yourself to transition into a career that fulfills and energizes you.


If you’d like more tips to advance your career, visit our website for career tools, resources, and coaching support at:

Reinventing Yourself & Your Career (part 1)

Yes, there is life after a lay-off! And the good news is that you’ve been given a clean slate to reinvent yourself to transition into a career that fulfills and energizes you.


I’ve reinvented my career five times including being a disc jockey in radio, public relations director in professional sports, community relations director in television, regional marketing manager in finance, and now I’m a global program manager in high tech. And each time that I reinvented myself – I received a pay increase!


Reinventing your career successfully simply means repackaging your skills, qualifications and accomplishments so that you can transition into a new job role, company, or industry. Below are some tips from my personal 5-step blueprint for reinventing your career more quickly, easily and maybe even with a higher salary!

  • Define your passion – In which industry would you like to work? Advertising? Finance? Health Care? When I wanted to stop being a disc jockey, I knew that I wanted to go into television. And after a successful career in television, I then set my sights on getting into Corporate America. I wasn’t sure what kind of job role I wanted (or could get!), but the first step was determining the industry where I wanted to work.

If you’re not sure where you want to go then read trade magazines, industry publications and on-line job postings. Visit a bookstore and browse through books and magazines to see what grabs your attention. Allow yourself time to figure out what lights your fire and inspires you!

  • Identify your transferable skills – These are skills that transition from industry to industry, or from job role to job role. Examples include: managing projects, teams, clients or budgets, as well as negotiating contracts, or proposing and implementing ideas that generate money, save money, or help the company be more competitive.

Other transferable skills include personal characteristics such as demonstrating leadership or risk taking, training or mentoring team members, being goal driven, results oriented, a problem solver, or having the ability to influence senior managers. These are ALL great skills to have, and they transfer from industry to industry. All industries and companies value employees with these types of skills and characteristics.


Remember, great jobs don’t just land in your lap. You have to know what you want – take action – and go after it! Your job is out there. You just need to go get it!


Commit yourself to achieving a purposeful and inspiring new career. Put all your focus, time, and energy into making your new career a reality.

Smart tips to avoid a layoff

Here is my most recent TV interview on NBC-TV Phoenix with some smart tips to avoid a layoff!  Enjoy!! I’d love your feedback.