We all know that today's workplace is like a ship on a turbulent sea: You never know when you might get thrown overboard – or at least injured. So, be prepared for whatever happens. Take precautions so you won't be caught off guard.
Following are some basic tips to brace yourself for a layoff. Heed them, or ignore them at your peril:
1. Move all of your personal files off of your office computer – get them home! Now! And this includes your resume. Sometimes layoffs happen so quickly that you aren't allowed to take personal possessions with you, let alone remove anything off the work computer.
2. Time to update your resume – don't wait until you're already out of work. Hire a professional resume writer to help as you may not be thinking too clearly right now. You need an objective point of view to dig out your key accomplishments and results. Your resume is your marketing brochure to get to the next job search step – the job interview, your personal sales presentation.
3. Update your LinkedIn profile with current job information, as well as new connections. Connect with current co-workers, vendors, professionals in your field, and anyone you know who could help you build a bridge to your next job. Get involved on LinkedIn to build your find-ability. Join industry-related and general local groups where you will pose questions and respond to others as part of the networking process. (Did you know that LinkedIn is the number one place that recruiters go to source talent?)
4. Tell everyone you know in your personal life that your job is ending. This is nothing to be ashamed of! You need the far reach of all your contacts to help you connect with your next opportunity. I had one career coaching client land his next job by networking with other parents at his son's soccer game. Shame is your enemy – own your situation and share the news.
5. Hire a Career Coach to help you develop your job search strategy. Get one-on-one support from a careers professional focused on your special situation – shift your career into full gear! Otherwise, you may fall victim to circular thinking and remain unemployed much longer. Support is critical to your success. This is not the time to believe you can do this alone – you need help! And that's OK!
6. Use whatever time you have left at work to take advantage of your health insurance benefits: schedule and do annual physicals, dental visits, take care of your vision needs, refill prescriptions, etc. COBRA is expensive. Other health insurance can be cost prohibitive when you have to purchase it yourself. Going without health insurance can be very risky, so you'll have to get some coverage, though it probably won't be the Cadillac version you've had through work.
7. Analyze your budget and determine exactly how much money you need to survive for at least 3 to 6 months, maybe longer. Axe the cable TV, daily lattes, eating out, gifts, manicures, and whatever else you don't need to survive (start washing the car in your driveway!). Learn to cook – it's so much cheaper than eating out, and healthier, too!
I'm sure I've missed other important tasks for layoff preparation. For those of you who've experienced this life-altering event, what should be added to this list? Please share to help those who are next up to walk the plank. Career churn is the new norm. We really need to help each other. Always keep your life jacket nearby!
I welcome your comments and contributions.
Wishing you career success in 2011!