Laid Off? Get a New Job Without Looking Like a Victim

Hi there good people

Wangari Maina here with another delightful serving of Esteemed talks.

Just a reminder, if you haven’t already done so, please subscribe, using the button below. You are missing out on some good stuff to set you apart in your career path and/ or business journey.

First off, thank you for all the feedback you have been giving. Today, I have taken the time to address an issue that has been raised by many listeners. How do you get a new job without looking like a victim of a layoff program?

If you are going for an interview, as part of your last-minute preparations and checks, please spare some 6 minutes to listen to the podcast ‘5 Interview hacks to get you noticed.’ Today’s podcast will be a plus in an interview and an even bigger bonus during that probation period. Most people don’t know that the probation period is part of the interview process.

So let’s get into it.

Stick to the facts

Especially for junior, mid and senior management level, always answer the questions about your layoff based on what was officially released by your former employer either to the public or through the internal memo or through the letter you received. The rumor mill in your former company and in the industry may have a more attractive, flowery version which may or may not be true. You need to remember that your interviewer or probation supervisor is not interested in what happened in your former employment. It is your loyalty or integrity under assessment. If you were laid off from an Accounting or Executive PA position, you may have sensitive information that shows the company lied about why they laid off people. It is not in your place, no matter how bitter or tempted you are, to release that information.

You were trusted and if you use it to try and get a new job, people will see without doubt that your loyalty has a price tag.

Dismantle the pain and betrayal traps

I make reference to this point in the mapping toolkit available on my website If your name was not on the director’s list, there was every chance that you could be suspended, fired, or laid off to become a victim of a retrenchment process. Do not fall into the trap of talking from a place of pain, bitterness and betrayal. Why? For starters, it will make you sound like a jilted lover who still has hang ups and does not mind going back. Secondly, it will blind you from the opportunities that present themselves by you getting a job with the potential employer. Thirdly, during the probation period, if you secure a new job, you will find it hard to adjust to the different environment and culture. This will make your learning curve steeper than it should be.

Take a deep breathe every time the negative thoughts come and say, “my former employer, no matter how good they were, do not define my present nor dictate my future. It was good while it lasted and I have moved on. My future is mine to define with today’s choices – my choices. Not corporate choices”.

Sell your value

As far as it depends on you, keep the conversation in an interview or at probation fixed on you, your work and what you can deliver. The more you allow your interviewer to focus on the weaknesses and strengths of your former employer, the more your responses border on the defensive as well as passing the buck to those who had more powers than you did. Let’s be practical. You’ve been laid off as an accountant and the conversation is that layoffs are due to mismanagement of financial resources. Your potential employer asks whether you were privy to the related information and you answer honestly “yes”. The question that follows is, “what did you do to salvage the situation?”

The most obvious and common answer, “There was nothing I could do. I simply did my job which was highlight the anomalies if I cited them and my boss and the management were responsible for how it was handled.”

The problem with that answer is that it has traces of lack of ownership, resignation, a we-vs-them mentality, and a lackluster approach to work. Here is another answer, “Many organizations such as my former employer and I believe this esteemed company as well, have systems, processes and a working culture that allows its employees to be both efficient and effective.

Mismanagement of resources is not an overnight activity, as am sure you all appreciate. It is a progressive downward slide if left unchecked. My duties included weekly reports to my section head, monthly meeting with the department heads and beyond highlighting the problem, my approach included highlighting loopholes, their short-term effect and what the future looked like if nothing was done. I am on record in the company initiating continuous improvement ideas such as requiring receipts from field staff to support their claims and having agreements with hotels to host our field staff.

The ideas would be approved and effected but the people involved in the process of implementation failed to see them through so the uptake was too little too late. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link so it doesn’t matter how good a solution is if the community does not apply it for its own good.”

The frustration in this second answer is not toward a person but toward a culture. In the same answer is an indication that this person values the company and is willing to invest more into it in form of ideas. It’s also an answer indicating that this person takes time to learn the other parts of the business.

Do your homework

If someone is taking their time to interview you, normally it means that they are willing to employ someone. It may as well be you. So, you must know why they need to fill that position. Have they just implemented a new system that you are familiar with? Have they always had their eyes on you? Are they glad your former employer retrenched because now they can afford the laid off staff? Your potential employer, if they are from the same industry will be hiring you for any number of reasons including wanting the think tank that you carry and contributed to your former employer, their competitor.

If they are from outside the industry, it may be because they have a high opinion/ value attached to the staff of your former employer. Be smart. Just like where you are coming from, they also hold the power to fire you if you don’t serve the purpose for which they are hiring you.

Know your place

The previous point got us started on this. Do not let your being laid off intimidate you to become timid and exhibit enslavement tendencies. Do not begin thinking that your new employer is doing you a favor by giving you a job after being laid off. At the same time, do not go flaunting your new job to your former colleagues and employer as if to say, “who’s laughing now?”

Knowing your place is an important reminder for you to offer the value you guaranteed at the interview and for which your new employer will be paying. In my e-book, “From Employment to Business”, I highlight that humility and teachability are priceless, unseen pearls of success. Humility is about leaving your past successes in the past and building new ones while learning from others.

That’s it for this set of talks.

Thank you for taking the time to listen in today. For feedback and questions about this conversation, please send them to

Your path is important to you and to us. So, we invite you to subscribe to this channel or our online resource centre at for relevant, regular, and actionable content to get you to that better place.



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