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"I promise, it won't happen again." These are exactly the words laid-off dotcommers want to hear from you in the interviewing stage-they're looking for some guarantee that they'll never be forced to endure a companywide pink-slip party again. But you probably can't realistically commit to those words. How much, then, do you have to reveal about your company to gun-shy layoff victims? You don't necessarily have to spill every detail to prospective employees, but, according to experts, you'd best be truthful in all your dealings with them. "It's far better to provide realistic information and let the applicant make an informed decision than to provide inaccurate information that unduly raises [his or her] expectations," says Caren Goldberg, an assistant professor of human resource management at George Washington University.
In that sense, a laid-off dotcommer isn't much different from other applicants. "If you're afraid your business plan may scare off a dotcommer, then, in all likelihood, that same information would scare off other applicants as well," says Goldberg. And you should let job candidates see your business plan-showing it often will give you incentive to keep it up-to-date.
Still, you don't have to get too intimate with them-this is your first date after all. "I don't think you need to reveal what your sources of capital are," says Richard Hadden, an employee relations expert. "You will, however, want to share your sales record, your vision and what your prospective market looks like." Here especially-there is no room for exaggeration.
Ex-dotcommers will likely want to know your philosophy on layoffs. Be honest and don't camouflage the potential complications. "If you're a small company, it involves a bit of risk to get involved with [you]," says Hadden. "If you tell the truth, you'll get people who are willing to take that risk."
Who says rebounds can't work?