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Feb 23, 2018
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

Whenever I heard about layoffs, I would think, “Hmm, I want to contact those being affected and see if I can recruit them for my open jobs.” As I did this, I learned, “Hey, a lot of the unaffected people are nervous and willing to talk.”

I would pay attention to almost any layoff. I would then see if that company had tech people, analysts, compensation departments, or whatever I needed.

I would go to LinkedIn, LinkedIn Recruiter, Google, and a few Google CSE’s, and build a list of that company as broadly as possible. One of the low hanging tools in LinkedIn Recruiter is to create a saved search for people who self-identified as “open to new opportunities.” I would save this search and check it at least every morning for new results. While many of these results were people who felt they would be laid off, others might be open who were in different departments I was interested in. I would start emailing those people first.

I would send an email including a comment that I may be calling in the next few days. When I connected with them, I would have a normal first, networking, “getting to know you” conversation. At some point, I would probe more. A simple question might be, “What the heck is going on over there?” You would be surprised how much info you can discover from this.

A few of these conversations would provide a wealth of information:

  • Was the announced layoff about right?
  • Was the reason for the layoff different from what was published?
  • Did the employees feel it was really going to be bigger/smaller than known?
  • What is the current “condition” of the company?
  • Was everyone looking for a new job?
  • How was management/execs perceived?

This information could be gold, here is why:

  • If the layoff announces sales/marketing layoffs, but more than two compensation people are looking, that might indicate more profound issues. Or, tech people, financial analysts, etc.
  • If management was considered “out-of-touch,” this might imply more people are open to talking from more departments than just sales/marketing.

If the person I spoke with were not going to be a candidate, I would take a few minutes and offer some strategies for their job search. Occasionally I would set up a conference call with the person and a few of their friends. These folks are going through a tough life event and anything I could do to repay their time with me was worth it. For those I could not directly help, I would refer their info to my network of people that might be able to hire, help or refer them on to something that might get them a job.

I have recruited and hired many people this way. As we all search for candidates, it might be worth spending a few minutes a day/week, combing through layoff announcements to see if there are candidates for your jobs that are about to go through a soul-crushing life event.

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
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