What to Do When a Layoff Looms

Depending on who you believe and where you live, unemployment claims are rising, declining or staying the same. In any case, hiring in the U.S. is still very sluggish, and I have talked to several people who are fearful that layoffs are ahead for them. Planning ahead is key if you think you are about to get that pink slip. Here are a few things to make this difficult transition a bit less scary:

*Save some money. This is a hard one when you are stretching every paycheck to pay the bills. However, 6-12 months of savings will help you feel more in control if you do get laid off. It gives you breathing room while looking for another job.

*Update your resume. While you need to take the time to tailor your resume to each job for which you will apply, updating it makes it easier to start the process of getting your resume out there to different employers.

*Change up your thinking. We are becoming a contract nation, one where people have temporary gigs rather than full-time jobs. Create a plan for how you will survive as a contractor if you need to. This includes investigating recruiters in your field and the benefits packages they may provide.

*Define your marketable skills. Be honest. Skills like speaking Spanish or installing software are no longer that rare. There are many more native Spanish speakers in the US now, and most people can install their own computer software.

*Investigate career fields where you can transfer some or all of your current skills to broaden your number of job leads.

*Stay current with your professional network. Reach out to those people to whom you have not spoken in awhile. Have a frank conversation with them, and let them know you are worried about a future layoff. Ask for job leads and resources. Make sure you return the favor to those in your network when you can.

*Invest in life-long learning. Take a computer class or pursue a certification that would have been next to impossible to obtain while you were working full-time.

*Figure out how to manage stress. A different routine after being laid off is enough to send most of us spiraling into depression. Set up a plan for what a day after a layoff may look like, with scheduled time for job search activities and fun activities that can relieve stress.

*Recognize that a layoff is not a permanent, forced escort out of the job sector. It is a second chance to define who you are, to discover a new career or to start your dream business. It is just one step in your career development process.

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