• Negin Safdari

Dear Artemis: How do we thoughtfully manage hiring post-layoffs?

Updated: Sep 20

Welcome back to Dear Artemis: Where you ask us tough questions and we use our collective 45+ years of knowledge in the recruiting space to answer them.


Dear Artemis,


Unfortunately our company is one of many who had to let go of some amazing, talented employees. But we’re still hiring for some key positions due to our restructuring and a shift in priorities. How can I instil confidence in candidates around the security a job at my company has - despite recent layoffs?


- HR Leader


Dear HR Leader,


Oufff, I can see why that’s a toughie. We’re seeing this across the board: a company does layoffs and then begins hiring - albeit less than they would’ve prior to the layoffs - and that doesn’t sit well with some candidates.


We also know that layoffs aren’t the same as freezing growth permanently. Maybe you’ve shifted your priorities to a few key product lines, or the layoffs led to voluntary resignations from employees still critical in your business operations that you must backfill, or you secured additional funding.


Regardless of the reason, candidates will be hesitant to make the move and will question why this role is a secure move for them. You likely have a great explanation, but that isn’t useful if your layoff news keeps great candidates from making it into a conversation.


Assuming that the layoffs are complete and there is a good story and new growth, here are our top tips:


  1. Transparency is best: You can’t hide the layoffs, so get ahead of that conversation. Whether it’s over LinkedIn, in your job posting, or in your outreach to potential candidates - tell the (hard) truth. Yes, your company had layoffs. But here’s why (insert your specific reasons here!) that you’re still hiring.

  2. Share why the role is secure: Why is this critical to the future of the business? Will they be supporting a stable product line? Will they be responsible for the very growth that will prevent future layoffs? The more tangible, concrete and specific reasons - the better. Tell a story that is honest and compelling.

  3. Share what your organization did to support those that were laid-off. People want to work for companies that care. Did you try to redeploy those laid-off employees elsewhere on the team? Did you communicate the layoff in a kind and considerate way - one on one, not on mass? Did you provide those employees with great support post-layoff, whether that be resume coaching, referrals, “layoff lists” shared over LinkedIn, etc?

  4. Give candidates space to ask you tough questions, and be prepared to answer them. And hopefully this goes without saying - don’t look poorly on candidates who ask critical questions and hold you accountable to answer them. This is a good thing! It means this is someone who could eventually be equally as thoughtful, careful, and analytical as part of your organization and team.


When you’re hiring on the heels of any bad press - be it lay-offs, stock price crash, or something else - lead with your values. Communicate honestly and with optimism. Strong leaders and professionals understand that sometimes the best businesses have to make hard decisions, and they can do it without compromising their integrity or their drive to succeed.


Hopefully this helps!


Until next time,

Negin & the Artemis team