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How to Explain Demotions and Layoffs in Resumes

Dealing with demotions and layoffs in your career history can be a challenge during a job search. But there are resume strategies you can employ to help explain and patch over these situations.

Dealing with a demotion in a resume

Using a resume strategy that’s forthright but doesn’t flash your demotion in neon lights may work better than trying to cover up the demotion. For example, some may try to hide a demotion by omitting start and end dates for various positions in a company.

A better approach would be to combine two of your titles together, followed quickly by your accomplishments and strengths, as shown in the sample.

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No matter how well you handle your resume entry, the reference of the demoting employer may ultimately end your chances of landing a new job that you want. If you need to mend fences with the former employer, you may appeal to their fairness or go for guilt. Point out how hard you worked and how loyal you’ve been. Find reasons why your performance record was flawed. Ask for the commitment of a favorable reference and a downplaying of the demotion.

The basic way to handle demotions throughout the job-hunting process is akin to how you would handle being fired: by accentuating the positive contributions and results for which you are responsible. But being demoted is trickier to handle than being fired. Being fired no longer automatically suggests personal failure — but being demoted does.

Explaining multiple layoffs

Good workers sometimes experience one layoff after another. When you’ve been to the chopping block a few too many times, explain the circumstances after each listing of the company name:

Carol Interiors (company closed doors) . . . Salamander Furnishings (multirounds of downsizings) . . . Brandon Fine Furniture (company relocated out of town) . . . Kelly Fixture Co. (plant sold and moved overseas)

Offering brief explanations such as this helps to take the blame from your shoulders.

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