Career & Jobs

Concerned About Layoffs? 7 Actions To Take In Advance Of A Career Disruption

The company merged, layoffs are coming, and I need to prep for a transition. – JP

Especially with a turbulent jobs market, you might write something on having your job search “go kit” ready in the event that his or her job situation can change suddenly in this economy. – Boyer Management Group

Morgan Stanley, Pratt & Whitney and DoorDash are among the companies recently announcing layoffs. With downsizing affecting different industries and small to large companies, it makes sense to be prepared for a disruption in your employment – a job search “go kit” as Boyer Management Group puts it. This is especially true if there is an organizational change, such as a company merger as in JP’s case, or a change in leadership or company strategy.

This isn’t about encouraging unnecessary anxiety, but rather, being proactive while things are still calm so that you are several moves ahead if something does happen. By taking preemptive action in advance of a career disruption you’ll be able to transition quickly into an active job search. Speed is especially important if you financially need to land your next job quickly and also to stay ahead of all the other job seekers who are laid off alongside you.

Here are seven actions you can take now that will enable you to bounce back from a layoff more quickly:

1 – Confirm your existing severance policy

It’s helpful to review your severance policy when you don’t need it, so there aren’t any negative feelings clouding your judgment. With a clear head, you can list any questions you need to research further, as well as think about what you might negotiate for should a layoff occur. Knowing what you’re entitled to allows you to plan how much runway you have to find your next job and therefore more realistically plan your job search.

2 – Run your numbers

Severance is just one piece of your financial puzzle. You might have savings, another salary in the household or other income sources that will affect the deadline for your job search. Yes, you could wait till you’re laid off to do this accounting. However, knowing your numbers sooner than later gives you more time to plan. You might realize you have more time to look and want to go after a career pivot. Or, you might pursue a longtime dream to start a business or take a longer sabbatical.

3 – Explore lateral move prospects

On the flip side, your numbers might show you can’t afford much, if any, time off. If that’s the case, one of the fastest ways to land quickly is to move within the company. Know what the company policy is for exploring openings in other departments, subsidiaries or regional offices. See if you can find examples of people who have moved from one role to another, or who started as employees and are now consultants. Consulting to your company is also an option — even when a company lays staff off, they may still need the work done and would be willing to hire back staff on a contract basis.

4 – Collect contact information for references and supportive colleagues

Hoping to land within your same company is just one option, and the most productive job searches keep multiple options in play at a time. This means, you’ll want to be ready for an external job search, and that means having professional references for your work, as well as supportive colleagues who can point leads in your direction. Once you leave your company, you leave your equipment and your email platform behind. Make sure that you have in your personal phone and personal email the contact information for all the people with whom you want and need to stay in touch.

5 – Rekindle key external connections

In addition to current colleagues, your network should extend outside your company. (Networking done correctly doesn’t tip off your company that you’re looking!) Former colleagues, social relationships, even classmates from years or decades back are potential resources for your job search. If you have let these relationships lapse, take time now, while you aren’t looking and don’t need anything, to get back in touch with your extended network and rekindle lost connections.

6 – Update your marketing material

Update your resume and LinkedIn profile to reflect your most recent role and accomplishments. As you rekindle outside connections, you may find yourself catching people up on what you’ve been working on – that’s a mini cover-letter. If you catch up over coffee, your introduction is a networking pitch that will help you later in career fairs and interviews.

7 – Itemize the help you need

As you pull these items together – your marketing material, contact list, references, relevant financial numbers – you’ll find some actions easier to complete than others. This gives you an important early indication of where you’ll need help in your job search. Start thinking now about how you’ll get that help – whether you have a mentor or coach you can tap, what your alma mater or local library offers, what books or blogs you can start reading.

Positioning yourself to bounce back from a layoff will help you even if you’re never laid off

A bonus of working on your job search go kit is that these actions will help you even if you don’t use the actual tools in your kit. Knowing your numbers gives you peace of mind or a much-needed jumpstart to save more. Having updated marketing material helps you take advantage of unexpected recruiter calls – or the next opportunity to ask for a promotion or raise. Preparing for the worst increases your resilience and confidence, so you can focus on performing on the job – or taking a much-needed rest for the holidays.

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