A Simple Plan For Preparing For Job Loss

SUMMARY POINTS

> Network your ass off to line up a new job while you still have a job
> Build up a savings buffer to cushion financial obligations and living expenses
> Prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for when it actually happens
> Keep your head up, you’ll get through this - we promise

The whispers at the water cooler have been increasing lately and now it’s all but confirmed — layoffs are coming and the writing is on the wall for your job.

The statements from executives about the company’s health is a clear signal that layoffs are a real possibility and that they could be just around the corner.

“It’s been yet another quarter of financial losses.”

“External market forces are requiring a complete revamping of our business.”

“The new competitive landscape requires organizational restructuring for survival.”

“Our costs have increased substantially, eroding all profitability.”

“We are aiming to optimize our efficiencies with this new merger.”

Some of these statements blatantly tell you that the company is in deep shit. While other statements are strong signals of rough times ahead.

You’ve been freaking out for weeks at the idea of losing your job. Now it’s a much bigger reality, you have no idea what to do.

Things are so freakin tight financially, even with a paycheck to rely on. With that about to disappear, you need a plan - like right now, so you feel in control when you’re officially let go. 

The Overall Gameplan For Preparing For Layoffs

Getting laid off is a big change. Now that you’re pretty sure that those water cooler whispers had plenty of truth behind them, you’re in panic mode. You’ve got no idea what to do next and that makes you stress out even more.

You may not be able to do anything to salvage the situation but that doesn’t mean you have to just wait around for your pink slip to appear.

Once the shock starts to wear off, it’s time to hit the ground running.

You’ve still got chance to make the transition much easier by laying the right groundwork. You’ve got a bit of lead time. It’s critical that you take advantage of it.

There are 3 parts to the action plan:

A) Line up your next job

B) Build a bigger savings buffer

C) Prepare for job termination

Following the gameplan will take away your biggest headaches — you won’t be stressing out as much about getting laid off or if you’ll be living on ramen noodles and spam for months.

Then, if you’re let go, you can feel confident about the future. You’ll have laid some great plans and that puts you in the driver’s seat. 

A) Line Up Your Next Job

As the saying goes, “it’s easier to find a job when you have a job”.

When you’re still working and earning an income, you’ve got a bit of leverage on what you’ll accept as your next job. You can be a bit choosier and selective.

It’s not just hearsay either. Research backs up the wisdom — it’s definitely harder to find a new job when you’re unemployed.

In this study from economists at the Federal Reserve Banks of New York and Chicago and Columbia University, job seeking activities were put under the microscope. 

One of the big takeaways is this: you’re a lot more likely to get positive responses from job applications while you’re still employed. And you might get some unsolicited approaches too.

Think about it this way - ever notice how recruiters seem to be contacting you when you’re busy at work but when you’re unemployed, it’s nothing but crickets?

That’s what we’re talking about here. It’s funny how the universe works that way.

The clock is ticking and you need to make the most of the time you’re afforded before D-day arrives.

Looking for a job is a job in itself. How do you find the time when you’re at work all week and you have a ton of family things to do when you finally get home?

It’s a tough balancing act but making every minute count can help quickly line up your next role.

It needs to be a dedicated and scheduled effort. Maybe you’ll network online during lunch, hit up the job sites at night, and arrange interviews and do some in-person networking on the weekend.

If you have to get up early to interview before work or stay up late applying for jobs online, suck it up and do it. It’s not going to be forever and it can save a lot of stress later on.

While you’re job hunting, think about where you want to go next with your career. Do you want to do the same role you’re doing now? Or could you use layoffs to your advantage and go after your dream job?

Think of this as an opportunity for something better.

1) Update Your Electronic & Online Resume 

When you’re buried at work, you probably don’t even give your resume a second thought. Most of us don’t bother updating it until we need to find another job.

If you haven’t touched your resume since you landed your current role, make this a priority. There’s probably stuff on there that is outdated or could use some freshening up.

Are you still leading with details about your education, even though it’s been a long time since you graduated?

By now, you’ve no doubt earned plenty of real world work experience. This is more important to employers so you’ll want to lead with this and your current role.

Update your MS Word or pdf resume and your LinkedIn profile resume. Both of these should cover your most recent roles, responsibilities and notable accomplishments.

Are there any parts of your role that aren’t obvious from your job title?

Highlight them and make it stand out a bit from the rest, especially if it’s something that you’re particularly proud of.

Still holding onto details about old skills or terminology that isn’t cool anymore?

Professing your expertise in using AOL dial-up internet access isn’t going to do you any favors. It can be a red flag to employers that you’re not up-to-speed. So, be sure that your resume reflects up-to-date trends and skills. 

2) Network For Hidden Opportunities 

The “hidden job network” is huge and the best jobs aren’t always posted. Employers can look to fill jobs by hiring internally, using headhunters, or getting referrals from their employees.

They’re still open to finding new talent — they just don’t want to be inundated with job applications or pay big costs for advertising positions.

How do you find these jobs if they’re not made public?

Your personal network can introduce you to “hidden” job opportunities that aren’t out there already. Your friends, industry peers, and colleagues may be aware of jobs that haven’t been published yet. Even your alumni association can be a goldmine for job leads.

Contact your network via email or phone to get the ball rolling. LinkedIn can be a great networking tactic too.
You can take the initiative and reach out to companies you’d love to work for. They may not have any openings right now but it can get your foot in the door.

The more connections you make, the more likely you are to get an “in” that leads you to a great job. 

3) Clean Up Your Social Media & Personal Branding

We all have a personal brand and managing yours in the right way can help you get ahead at work.

Now is a great time to do a self-audit on your personal brand and see how you can improve it. It’s a win-win situation, regardless of whether you’re laid off or not.

Clean up any potentially embarrassing, offensive or stupid social media posts that may negatively influence employers. These days, employers will look you up on social media and if they don’t like what they see, it can impact your job potential.

In fact, many businesses use third party companies to do background checks on applicants and these checks include social media searches in addition to traditional reviews.

Go through your social media posts and delete anything that looks even remotely iffy.

So that photo of you double-fisting pints of beer, screaming like a drunken sailor, should be zapped.

Google yourself and see exactly what comes up. You might be surprised at what you see — probably not as shocked as a potential employer may be though!

4) Burn Unused Vacation Days For Interviews

Even when you’re being laid off, job hunting can be an awkward business.

The fact that you’re about to leave may be the elephant in the room but you’ve still got to avoid doing job seeking activities on company time.

All of this is challenging when you finally land an invitation to interview. After you’ve done the happy dance and mentally patting yourself on the back, you start wondering how you’re actually going to pull it off.

Calling in sick is a big no-no. The risk is just too high if your employer finds out what you’re up to. Resist the temptation and look at other options.

Do you have some vacation time?

Use it to line up job interviews. If you can, try to line up 2-3 interviews for that same day. You don’t need to feel guilty, seeing as you won’t be sneaking around while your manager isn’t looking.

It’s your time, not the company’s and you can do whatever the hell you want. 

5) Refresh Your References

When was the last time you touched base with your former managers?

Now is the time to refresh these relationships and give them a heads up that they may be getting contacted. Doing this before a potential employer asks references allows your contacts to be aware and not get blind-sided by some random request.

Let them know you’re in the market for a new job and they might just help you out.

Refreshing your references can lead to discussions about job opportunities — sometimes in the hidden job market.

If you had a good relationship before you moved on, they may even help spread the word about your pending job status. You never know where this could lead!

Think about this - let’s say you’ve got three solid references from former managers. Each of those managers has ten very close industry peers. Right there, you’ve got thirty strong contacts that can potentially help out.

B) Build More Savings Buffer

The sting of losing your income overnight can be painful.

At best, it’s going to cause you a few headaches about how you’ll manage while you find a new job.
At worst, it could be financially crippling — especially if you’re up to your eyeballs in debt and can’t afford to be without a paycheck for even just a week.

This is why it’s so important to build a savings buffer before you get laid off. Having this cushion can ease a lot of the financial and emotional burdens of a layoff. And, it’ll carry you through the rough times ahead.

This isn’t just about how much you can put aside from your income. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, there may be precious little to add to an emergency fund.

It’s also about how you can save money to stretch your dollars a bit further and make some cash on the side. 

1) Use Company Paid Benefits While You Can

Check to see which company paid benefits you can take advantage of while you’re still employed.

If you’ve still got health checks and dental cleanings that you haven’t used yet, jump on them while you can. Get your body tuned up for free while you can. This will eliminate out-of-pocket expenses later.

Suck everything you can from your company benefits before you leave.

Ask your employer how your health insurance will transition from the company to government mandated continuation coverage. It’s important to have a clear understanding of what needs to be done and even more importantly, how much it will cost. 

2) Cut Out All Unnecessary Expenses

Even the prospect of a layoff is a big signal to tighten your belt financially. Look at your budget and see if you can trim any non-essential spending.

This can free up a bit more cash to put in an emergency fund. If you do get laid off, you’ll be grateful for the extra buffer to see you through while you plan your next move.

Think about what counts as essential spending. Food, rent/mortgage and bills are key areas you don’t want to cut corners with or fall behind on. Retirement contributions can also fall into this category.

Non-essential expenses can include buying new clothes, getting those high-dollar morning lattes, dining out, paying for cable packages, monthly subscriptions and memberships that you’re not using regularly.

Cut your expenses down to the bone if you have to. You can always pick up these expenses again later on once you’ve landed another position.

Sure, it’s not glamorous but every dollar counts and it all adds up to some sizable savings. And that’s what’s really important right now.

3) Shopping Smarter For Necessities

Changing your shopping habits for essential expenses can make your dollar go further.

Before you dive in, make a list of everything you spend in a typical month. This helps you see where you can save more and shop smarter.

Doing a comparison shop and seeing if you can save more by swapping to a different grocery store is a smart move too.

Make meal plans to cover what your family will eat over the week and stick to this shopping list when you hit the grocery store. You can keep those impulse buys to a minimum if you’re not tempted away from your list.

If you really don’t trust yourself, leave your credit cards at home and arrive at the store with the exact amount you need. If you don’t have it, you can’t spend it!

4) Cash Out Extraneous Assets

Have you got any extraneous assets you can cash out to free up some more money?

Maybe you’ve got some expensive jewelry that you hardly ever wear (or never wear!) and won’t be missed.

Or maybe you have a second car that doesn’t get much use and can be sold to escape the car loan. Can you get by with one vehicle in the short term? Weigh up which one would be better to keep and cash in on the other.

Research the value of any expensive assets you could sell and where you could sell them to boost the buffer fund. 

5) Start A Weekend Side Gig

With the whole new “gig economy” there are lots of freelance gig jobs that can be easily started (i.e. Uber driving, food/package delivery, online freelance work etc.) and don’t require a full day’s dedication.

Your weekends might usually be spent with the family or friends but for now, it’s smart to rethink how you spend this time.
The “gig economy” has opened the door to lots of freelance temp jobs that can be started quickly and easily. And, not all of them are manual labor type jobs. There are desk work gigs too, doing admin processing, editing, scheduling, etc.

With many of these, you don’t even need to dedicate a whole day to bring in some much-needed extra cash. It can be as little as a few hours. Often, you can decide how long you want to work or just do things on a project-by-project basis.

Selling items on eBay, driving an Uber, delivering food or packages, freelancing temp work are all just a few side hustles you can look at.

What you choose to do isn’t so important — the main thing is that you’re adding extra cash to your savings buffer and reducing the financial pressure if (or when) you’re laid off. 

C) Preparing For Unemployment D-Day

If you’ve not managed to line up a new job yet and layoffs are happening right now, it’s time to sort out some of the more administrative details.

1) Sorting Out Administrative & Personal Stuff

Every company usually has a set process for terminating or laying off employees. There’s usually some paperwork that needs to be filled out, completed and signed. This can include forms for health insurance continuation, waivers, etc.

For imminent layoffs, start removing your personal items from the office and take them home. You don’t want to lose access to these if you have to leave immediately.

On a similar note, get ready to turn in any company equipment too.

Maybe you had access to a laptop as part of your role, for example. So download/extract any personal files and information that you may have saved on your work computer and transfer them to a USB memory stick or upload them to your personal cloud drive. Afterward, delete them from the computer and empty the desktop trash bin.

2) Checking Your Accrued Benefits

If layoffs are looming, take stock of the benefits you’ve accrued but not yet taken.

Have you got vacation time you’ve not used yet?

Taking it gives you a chance to get past the emotional effects of being laid off and lay the groundwork for finding your next job. You can use it for practical reasons too — lining up interviews or networking meetings on PTO can help you find a new job sooner.

Think about health benefits too. If you’re eligible and you’ve got some left, see what you can use. If you’re laid off, you won’t get a chance to take advantage of them. Use them while you still can.

If you’re freaking out about your company’s future, think about what you’ll likely do with your 401k if you’re laid off and the company goes under. Can you allocate any of it? This is a key question to ask if it’s 100% invested in your company’s stock. 

Check your severance package too. You won’t always be entitled to one so you’ll want to know in advance what to expect in the event of a layoff. 

3) Asking About Outplacement Support

The thought of moving on after a layoff can keep you up all night.

See if your company offers outplacement support to help you get settled in at a new role somewhere else. This many involve career coaching and support to find a targeted new role that fits your skills.

Outplacement support can make the transition far less stressful after a layoff. It can also help you land on your feet faster so you can quickly jump on your next career move.

If your company offers outplacement support, take it up!

4) Filing For Unemployment Benefits ASAP

You can get financial support right from the beginning by filing for state government unemployment benefits as soon as you’re laid off. Do this right away as it can take several weeks for the paperwork to be approved.

Your gameplan sets you up to not have to rely solely on unemployment benefits but they’re a good fallback in the short term to cushion the blow of losing your paycheck.

Read up on your state’s requirements for claiming unemployment benefits. This tells you how long you can claim for and how much you’ll receive. Doing this type of prep can also help you understand the financial reality of layoffs. 

5) Taking Some Time For Yourself

Losing your job can bring a lot of emotional and financial stress. Even just the thought of it can bring a lot of sleepless nights.

Taking some time for yourself is crucial in the wake of layoffs. The stress can soon take its toll and that’s bound to affect both you and your family.

Of course, you want to get a new job lined up as soon as you can but not at the expense of self care. So, look into some budget-friendly me-time things to do.

Looking after yourself helps to manage stress and keep you at the top of your game. 

Don’t Worry, It’ll All Work Out In The End

Layoffs suck and it’s hard to see any positives in the situation when it wasn’t your choice to leave. But, having an “attitude of gratitude” can turn things around.

Flip your thinking on its head and look at the bigger picture.

Don’t get caught up in thinking you’re not where you need to be or that you’re falling behind. You are “running your own race at your own pace” so don’t fret.

VIDEO: Best inspirational video ever for job seekers.
YOUTUBE: R jey
LENGTH: 1:56

Big changes like this can lead to better opportunities and a fresh start for your career. Your brand new future is just around the corner and so is a job you’ll love.

You might not be able to see it yet but you have a lot more control than you think.

Spend your downtime lining up a new job, get your finances in order, and get ready to hit the ground running when layoffs are confirmed and happening.

So, the next time one of the execs sends out a company-wide email about cost saving cutbacks, it won’t throw you into some anxiety-ridden meltdown because you’ll have an action plan in place.

And, proper planning and taking action now will make the transition more bearable.

Keep your head up, stay positive and good things will come.

Feel Better,
[Cubicle|Therapy]