Laid off, Depressed, can't see how to fix this

Taklerve's picture
Rank: Chimp | 13

Dear Monkey Fellows,

Thanks for your attention. I just created a separate account to ask for some advice.

On the latter part of 2017, I was laid off and I'm still job searching. Long story short: non-target in Europe, put a lot of effort to progress in my career, moved to other countries for jobs, did internships for shitty salaries losing my savings, completed CFA L3, networked a lot, coped with the shitty euro-economy, finally landed a CorpFin role in a Big4 (company valuations) somewhere in Europe.
Having joined that team was probably the worst decision I've ever made so if this post is worth something, let it be a warning: kids do your research before you join a team.

After joining, I learned that half of the team resigned over a short amount of time and they were rebuilding the team. Having lost a lot of people, that put a significant amount of stress towards meeting deadlines and they brought in help like crazy (I was part of it). The place was in such disarray and with so many tensions that someone was leaving every month. Clients were not particularly happy with missing deadlines, they lost some big accounts and at some point, they decided it was a good idea to downsize the team accordingly. Which lead to me being laid off with the excuse of a poor performance. But poor performance my *ss, because they kicked out more people than just me, I heard that the deal pipeline was looking weak and some people left on their own openly saying "I don't see any future here".

So, regarding the job search I've been applying everywhere, I can in Europe, networking etc. The problem is, everytime I get an interview and they bring up why the resume gap:
-If I say I was fired, dinged.
-Team restructuring, several layoffs, dinged
-It was a temporary contract, raises suspicions.
-Jobs below my level, you're too qualified, you have a great profile but you will be bored here and leave soon and we'll have to start looking for someone else soon: dinged
-Jobs all over Europe: you speak/ understand several but not X language of the 20 we have in Europe so we'll go first with locals.

I recently moved back with my parents because I was burning cash in a very expensive city and needed to cut expenses. Considered doing a masters but I'm reticent to spending most (if not all) of my remaining savings and that may not be enough. Considered job searching out of Europe (been told that CFA is more valuable in emerging markets but I don't know...). People I network with just say that I'll be fine, that I have the CFA and that's great but can't get any real solution from them. I continue applying online, reaching out for spontaneous applications, contacting people.

I welcome your advice, especially about how to explain this lay off because nothing seems to work, the gap is over 6 months, I'm in a dead zone and I don't know if hiring is just slow, or I'm not getting anywhere or I'm simply stupid.

Comments (16)

Most Helpful
Jul 10, 2018

I hate it when bad things happen to good people. Not able to provide constructive advice, but I sincerely hope things can work out for you in the near future.

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Jul 18, 2018

How do you know this is a "good" person lol

Absolute truths don't exist... celebrated opinions do.

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Jul 11, 2018

One note: 'team restructuring' is better than saying you were fired, full stop. Maybe a minor ding (why would he join a bad shop?) but this is better than getting fired for performance issues.

I'd imagine you'd want to use numbers if they help your case - "cut headcount by [80%] and I was the most junior"

Jul 12, 2018
  • CFA
    • Valuation experience in Europe
    • Young, at the beginning of your career
      I wish I were you... I don't see any issues w/ screening

6 month is not over, and you can prepare a nice story line - focus on L3, internship, and travel all over Europe... it could be your advantage

But, your post is too depressed... are you sure that you behave yourself properly in interviews? Why am I asking? First, I was young, did a lot mistakes also. Second, I hired people for jr. analyst roles and the key reason for rejection was interpersonal skills. Example - we hired a guy with good education, 3.97 gpa, cfa l2, gmat 750, fluency in English (that time I worked in Moscow), experience in BV with Big4, etc... I even thought that I would be laid-off when he understand our business We paid attention to his personality during interview but his CV... so we gave him an offer. After a few weeks all his problems poped-up... (depressed, health and family issues that he highlighted, jargon phrases...) all our team did our best to explain him what he needs to fix... And he did it, not 100% but he became a part of the team and a good buddy after work hours.

What I am trying to say:
- Control yourself - if you share such thoughts, you probably allow extras in interviews
- Loyalty and commitment come first (doesn't matter who you work with)
- Focus on job only - you should be very positive person (it is hard sometimes but you have)
- Consider all jobs - Big4, second tier firms, etc (shit must be done attitude - not your expectations about perfect job)
- Prepare your positive storyline (tell only what you really should)

Hope it helps and you will land an offer soon

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Jul 18, 2018

Agree with the above.

Regarding your reasons for leaving your Big4 job and the gap, just say "family reasons" and people will most likely not dig any further than that.

"So i see there's a gap in your resume between x and now"

"Yes, I left XXX company for family reasons and went back to "insert home city", but now that that is resolved I have moved back to [insert whatever city you are interviewing in] and actively recruiting. "

Awkward silence then..."Cool, lets go into some technicals"

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Jul 16, 2018

First of all, thanks to those who posted for your help.

I come now from a phone interview with a recruiter and when I mentioned the team restructuring and headcount reduction figures starting with the most junior there as explained on the thread, that was followed by 5 seconds of silence and contradictory terms on what they were looking for. Basically I was a match until I mentioned the layoff. Then, they wanted someone with more years of experience.

So yeah, I sound depressed because this issue has been consistenly derailing my career no matter how I approach it. Everything goes fine until that point is discussed, then goes South.
I don't know anymore how to approach this on an interview.

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Jul 18, 2018

Lots of good advice here on how to spin the restructuring situation and/or going the "had to handle some family business".

Also try to remember when you are on the phone to stand and smile, it can actually help you sound more upbeat along with the delivery of whatever you say, hopefully enough so that you then get those in-person interviews where you can really sell yourself.

One of my earliest jobs was working for a jeweler who had sent out 100's of catalogs of his work and had me calling the recipient companies to see if they wanted to place orders.

After the first few dozen "no thanks, not at the moment" - he taught me something I never forgot: "You have to treat each call fresh, as if you haven't gotten 10 no's in a row, don't let your voice show your lack of results so far - the person on the other end of the phone has no idea of how many times you've been turned down. Try standing and smiling when you make the rest of today's calls."

Sure enough, I still got a number of no's that day and every day after, but my more upbeat tone definitely got me a number of orders, along with people that said they would call back with an order in a week or a month and they actually did.

I have used that advise the 2 times that I was laid off and it absolutely helped. I also often stand and or walk during stressful calls when dealing with everyone from attorneys, doctors and social workers, where I've needed to focus and not get upset when dealing with complicated and/or upsetting information/news.

Good luck.

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Jul 16, 2018

You need to start off showing some energy, telling them you're excited to be interviewing with their company, have a good reason for why you want to join the team. That needs to be hammered into them every chance you get, showing examples of why you will be a good fit. Show that you understand what the job entails and that you know your resume cold. Be open about why you left the company. If the company was struggling and did some restructuring. Fine. Tell them how you were thriving but, it couldn't be avoided, based on your role and where the company was headed. Make sure you let them know you're more excited about their company than the previous one.

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Jul 18, 2018

Call your former employer, tell them your problem, ask them to change the story from "was fired" to "left to seek other challenges". During interviews tell recruiters that you left the firm yourself, refer them to the person who will confirm the story in your previous firm. No one really cares if you were laid off, or left yourself it just an anchor that being laid off is something bad.

You killed the Greece spread goes up, spread goes down, from Wall Street they all play like a freak, Goldman Sachs 'o beat.

Jul 18, 2018

In the US (can't speak for Europe) most people are amenable to the restructuring/layoff line. Anyone who's been around for more than a few years knows that banks and firms change priorities at the drop of a hat; and probably has a peer or two that's been a victim of this.

Don't linger on it in the interview - address it with maturity and move on. If you're just the victim of a corporate reshuffling, that's okay with me because it happens to everyone. If you linger on it or are bitter about it; that's a red flag to me.

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Jul 18, 2018

Yeah, in the US it seems to be fine. Just American culture. But might not be the case in Europe.

Jul 18, 2018

If you're actually depressed, go talk to someone. Depression, for me at least, meant laying in bed for 18 hours a day and not even bothering to play video games or watch Netflix because I couldn't find joy in anything. That's no way to live, first of all, and second of all it will actively impede both your job search and your personality when you finally get an interview.

I don't know how different things are in Europe, but "Team restructuring, several layoffs, dinged" just sounds odd to me (it's not within your control...) you need to fight that "Jobs below my level, you're too qualified, you have a great profile but you will be bored here and leave soon and we'll have to start looking for someone else soon: dinged" perception immediately.

"That just means I'll be able to pick things up faster, execute better, and be loyal to the person who gives me a chance."

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Jul 18, 2018

Hey bro - had a similar situation. After joining a family office in 3Q16, was notified in 1Q17 that the family was "heading in a different direction" and we would be shutting operations down. Proceeded to endure 8 long months of unemployment. It's easy to say now that I have a job I love with a boss I couldn't respect more, but I am glad I had that time. I know it's stressful, but enjoy the time. It's very rare you have this kind of free time for exploration inside and outside yourself. Take serious time to self-reflect about what you REALLY want to do, where you REALLY want to work.

Also, get out of the house and explore! You have a bunch of free time. Go golf, be outside, exercise, eat healthy, cook meals at home. This time will help you decompress all the stress in your mind and will allow you to think more freely about this situation.

As far as being fired, gotta spin it as a positive. If I am hiring someone and I sense they are dodging the question of previous employment, that's when I start to get suspicious. Just inform the interviewer your situation in a straightforward way and be sure to inform them that your situation is not the result of your performance or interaction with the group and that you are happy to provide references.

Also, for interview dynamics, you gotta be positive and happy to be on the phone. Nobody wants to hire a scared nerd. Like said in another reply, have energy and be excited! People can tell when you're excited about an opportunity! Be picky about your opps so that when you find a job you like, you can put all your energy and focus into the interview process. And damn it when you find that job you better make the case study f*cking fantastic and have reviewed all your fit and technical questions! NO EXCUSES FOR THAT.

Stay away from the large recruiting firms, they suck and have no interest in doing what's best for you.

Feel free to DM me, happy to give more thoughts.

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Jul 18, 2018

PM me, I have a name of a recruiter who might help you in the UK. A lot of my former colleagues got a job through her.

Jul 20, 2018

I had written a reply that was deleted (?) so I'll post again:

There seems to be 2 approaches here: either say it was family reasons or say it was restructuring of the team.

Family reasons could work but also gives the impression I'm hiding something I don't want to talk about. And no, lingering on the topic is not something I want to do, in fact I want to move on as fast as I can from it but giving the impression I'm hiding something may work against me.
I'm more inclined to say it was a temporary contract due to a work peak they had, and although I was thriving and having good reviews (true btw), pipeline for the future was bringing an expected lower activity and team was reestructured, nothing I could do. They were not only looking to expand the team, but also reduced headcount by X%. After that I can say I went a few months home for family reasons and that it is solved and I'm now looking for a new role.

Makes me scratch my head how many people say a layoff shouldn't be a big deal and yet recruiters make a mountain out of it.

Again thanks all for your comments, I'll follow the advice and do things like smiling on the phone to change my tone.
And I do know where I'd want to be and I pursue that, but I apply also to everything I see I can fit into.

Jul 20, 2018
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