Recruiting Gold: The Layoff Reports

Mondays. I love ’em. Why? Because Mondays are when one of my favorite sets of “gold reports” come out: the weekly layoff (outplacement) reports. Although I happen to be partial to the ones that come from AIRS because they get delivered directly to my email inbox, layoff reports are available from a number of sources, each unique from the others in some respect:

  • AIRS covers announced layoffs from certain newspapers. Then it discusses the company, how many employees will be affected, the percentage of reduction, the industry, and the location.
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  • HRLive delivers the same style information from different sources, as of the week ended Thursday. There’s no way to have this one delivered to you. It’s necessary to actually go to the site to pull up whichever report you want to view. But oh what choices they offer. You can get a general report broken down by week or you can get a report based on industry or geographic location. These reports are really comprehensive ó not the sort of thing you want to print out for reading at a later time, unless you want to fell a few forests. But the information you want is easily selectable so that you pick up just what you need.
  • used to provide similar reports, but they’ve cut back to just weekly headlines. This is fine for those who don’t have a lot of time to spend doing analysis and poring over facts and figures but who do want a quick and dirty blurb about a particular company or industry.
  • There’s also the “Layoff List” from MSNBC. It’s a monthly overview as opposed to weekly. It has its merits: a concise summary of which companies are laying off, the stock symbol, and how many employees will be terminated. It’s tricky to find this, though, as it’s buried in a remote area of the news on the site. It’s helpful for a general overview.

Then, of course, there’s the reliable Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The monthly BLS reports are simply mind-boggling ó visiting their site is like a trip to Baskin Robbins. It’s layoff and employment reports you want, eh? There’s the Latest Numbers, which has a national summary and all sorts of detailed headlines, summaries, and reports. Once you get into the reports, you can see what the typical employed person profile is according to occupation, age and race or occupation, sex and age. Then there’s the mirror of that ó the profile of the unemployed. This profile allows you to glean some good insight into what the typical unemployed candidate will be like even before they walk in your door. You may even develop an idea of when they’ll be ready to come in your door if you analyze the various data in combinations. So you can develop some excellent interviewing strategies in order to determine whether the candidate will be a good fit in certain other environments. Conversely, you have some perspective of what passive candidates are out there, how many, and what their characteristics are. Reading these carefully, you’ll have an idea of which places are good for sourcing. They’re like gold. Gold Nuggets Now back to the reports from AIRS and HRLive. Simply gold nuggets, those. Check those weekly figures. Compare them to prior weeks. Analyze what’s happening in your target industry. Decipher whether the bottom has fallen out of that market or if things are leveling out. As I read these reports between 1999 and 2000, it was easy to see the beginnings of our current economic climate. In the late fall, the numbers started to rise across the board. They were industry indiscriminant; that is to say, everyone was cutting. Another thing I like about these reports is that they discuss some of the issues happening in the company. These days there’s sometimes a brief discussion about termination packages or whether the company has established an outsourcing program. Read this report and get an idea of where you can source for talent. You can enlist the assistance of HR to do it. In fact, you may want to do an onsite recruiting fair ó with permission, of course. For third-party recruiters, this is a good way to get your name known and to possibly develop some new clients who want and need outsourcing services. You know, eventually they’ll want recruiting services again. Here’s your (golden) foot in the door. Gold Chips These reports have so many uses beyond the obvious. As I’ve already suggested, in the broadest reading, the outplacement reports alone give an overview of economic conditions and are a general as well as industry-specific forecasting tool. What’s more, if the layoff numbers keep rising, there are a few strategies you in-house recruiters should consider. Benefits packages should be checked and compared with your competitors. Make certain yours are not out of line. It’s time to check salaries in your area and industry. Which of your competitors is making cuts and what are the reasons they’re publicizing? These may be indicators for your company; a means of avoiding the same pitfalls. If others are laying off, your company (again, for you in-house recruiters) may be next. This is a good time to review job descriptions to make certain they’re accurate. You may need to modify them because your people have taken on extra responsibilities. And it’s just a good idea to check your own backyard. No doubt your staff is reading the full headlines from those newspaper sources. If the industry or area numbers are consistently high, this may be a good time to do some morale building. These are not costly endeavors. Some places use a dual-pronged approach. While one of the executives has a brown bagger or deli shop lunch off premises with groups of the staff, they listen to those people and answer questions to ameliorate concerns. These are times to ask questions as well. Getting feedback from employees builds a subtle climate and provides a valuable reward system. It lets your people know that they count. But I’m straying from the topic of layoff reports per se. I’m sure you can think of a thousand other uses for them as well. We can certainly agree, though, that they’re a great way to stay ahead of the competition and garner the most talented individuals at just the right time.

Yvonne LaRose ( is a California-accredited consultant and freelance writer. Her column, Career and Executive Recruiting Advice, is read by professionals from all parts of six continents who rely on her advice, previous board experience, and insights on business management, recruiting, and career development issues. Former producer and host of "Legally Speaking," a bi-weekly legal news radio program, Ms. LaRose's 15 years of writing encompasses various media, including print. Her online writing appears at such places as, AIRS Directory, Workforce, ITWorld's Managing the IT Pro, and SmartPros. She has been interviewed by The Wall Street Journal, Savoy Professional Magazine, The New York Times Job Market, and SmartPros. Yvonne helped author the e-book "The Last Job Search Guide You'll Ever Need: How to Find and Get the Job or Internship of Your Dreams." Her contributions deal with professionalism, how to handle criticism and the qualities of a good resume. For more information on her book, visit


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