A friend of mine just missed getting laid off as 23 of his coworkers were let go with no notice. In fact, the company had indicated it wasn’t having a tough time.
So how could he or his coworkers have been more ready? How can anyone prepare for layoffs?
1. The best preparation is to find ways to avoid them. Companies can take the first step, so if you are an exec or manager, think of ways to creatively keep all those good employees you have. Check out this article for more on that.
2. Don’t get caught off guard. Notice what’s happening– in news reports about your company, in stock prices if your company is publicly held, in loss of clients, in industry trends. Don’t get caught in a Chicken Little water cooler panic, but do look at the facts.
3. If you have a decent or good relationship with a boss, definitely have a sitdown talk about your role and your department’s role as the recession lingers. It doesn’t have to be about whether or not you are getting laid off, but getting a sense of what’s likely (by what the person says and doesn’t say, by the way). You may also find out how you will have to take on roles you do not want and so it will be time to look for a new job anyhow.
4. People are irrational in interesting ways. They will look at you as more employable if you now have a job than if you are unemployed. So if you are thinking you might like another job, or if layoffs seem somewhat likely, then the time to start searching is right now–before the layoff. Make the decision to find other work.
5. Starting a job search in advance means doing ALL the things you’d do if you were already laid off, except getting unemployment insurance.
This includes the basics for starters–make an up-to-date resume (see article on visual resumes here), cover letter (or template you can customize as needed), and start expanding and tapping into your networking list, if only to see how everyone else you know is doing and what you can do for them. If you don’t know about all the online resources, start finding out by searching online, getting help at your library or talking with state support services.
Do not work on these things or store resumes, etc. at work. Look at this job search as a second after- hours job.
Finally, as part of your networking, make sure you have a good support community of people to help you keep on track and motivated. If you do get laid off, don’t waste time blaming yourself for not seeing it coming, just get moving ahead.