What to Say When You’re Laid Off

Tips on communicating your job loss in cover letters, interviews, and with hiring managers

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Outside Voices - ''Working Girl'' aka Karen Burns
More than 1 million people have been laid off this year. If you are one of them and you're looking for a new job, good luck—and remember these five important things:

1. Before you hit the job-hunting trail, find a way to come to terms with your emotions. People, including employers, are repelled by anger, bitterness, or self-pity. You may well feel it. Just don't display it.

2. In your cover letter or résumé, you don't need to point out that you were laid off. So many people are in your same boat that the fact that your last job ended three months ago is not going to harm your prospects at this point.

3. At the interview, explain your layoff if questioned, but be brief and, if possible, upbeat. Be ready with a reasoned and balanced explanation of why you were one of the ones to go.

4. Also, at the interview, don't take up time and waste energy blaming the economy for your job loss. If the interviewer wants to talk about the sorry state of affairs, feel free to commiserate. But don't bring it up yourself.

5. Try to strike a balanced note in all your dealings with potential employers. You want to sound confident but not arrogant; eager but not desperate.

It ain't easy. But remember that even now, some sectors (e.g., healthcare, education, transportation, the utilities, financial services) are still hiring. People get jobs during recessions. You can, too.

Karen Burns, Working Girl, is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use, to be released by Running Press in April 2009. She blogs at www.karenburnsworkinggirl.com.