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How do I explain a layoff for insufficient work product?

by Robin Etzin
(Philadelphia, PA)

That was the reason I was told, although I have 10 years experience and am good at what I do. Clients were always very happy with my work. I suspect another employee, who is best friends with the manager, wanted my full time position, rather than her part time position.

Answer: Hi Robin, did you ask for any explanation of that reason at the time you were laid off? Had there been any warnings leading up to the layoff... verbal reprimands and such? I'm wondering if you would have grounds for unjust termination, but that's something an employment lawyer would have to answer.

As to what to tell future prospective employers, this is a tricky one. I think direct honesty might be the best approach. If you'd never received any previous warning that your work product was an issue in 10 years, then I think I'd just say that and that you were mystified by the layoff. I'd also emphasize your positive 10 year work record with the company. If you can get some client testimonials to present in writing with your cover letters or at least at interviews, that might help too.

What I wouldn't say is your theory on the "real" reason you were laid off. While it may be true, expressing this will sound negative in an interview and would be impossible to validate either way. So better not to bring it up.

Good luck with your job hunt! Mine those contacts you made over the past 10 years.

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