What should I do to prepare for a layoff? What steps can I take to best prepare for a layoff? Are you feeling intensive dread with uncertainty of being terminated? Don’t let the possibility of being pink slipped derail your career goals. Wake up! Time is running out! You need to act now!

From surviving to thriving, this blog post is going to be focused on anything and everything that a person should be considering when they have fears about being laid off. Actionable items that you can do right now affect everything within your control.

Emergency Fund

Do you have a budget? What are your monthly expenses? Are there opportunities to trim your budget down if needed?  You need to make a budget to see how much your expenses come out to be each month. Consider trimming all non-essential costs you’ve been overlooking. Unnecessary subscription services, requoting home/auto insurance, requoting cable/internet/cell phone services, paying off debt, and refinancing or reconsolidating debt to cheaper interest rates will stretch your emergency fund out.

Reconsider plans that you had in the future. That home renovation project can be put on hold. You can wait until next year to go on that expensive vacation.  It may feel good to just get away and get some rest and relaxation but you need to be in the present here and now to properly prepare.

Once your budget is cleaned up, see what you have in savings. Most people and financial advisors advise 3-6 months of emergency funds. I would advise more if you are in a job that has variable pay such as sales, a career where you cannot pivot to a similar paying job easily, if you and a spouse work at the same company or industry, or if you are more risk averse and having more would make you comfortable. The ease of mind of having an emergency fund will take some of the dread away.

Review your Benefits

Check your employee benefits package, including any severance or termination pay, and make sure you understand what you are entitled to or can negotiate if you are laid off.

  • Severance package:
    • Payout amount?
    • Date of payout?
    • 401K or retirement vesting?
    • Healthcare coverage?
    • Dental coverage?
    • Vision coverage?
    • Life insurance?
  • Signing Bonus/Relocation Bonus/Tuition Reimbursement: Review payback terms.
    • Pay back amount?
    • Time period?
    • Penalty if late?

Review your various insurance policies and get done what insurance will cover.

  • Dental benefits: Get any dental work, procedures, cleanings completed
  • Vision benefits: Get eye exams, contacts, glasses, and other work completed
  • Prescription medication: Stock up on what you can for your medications.
  • Annual Check up: Get your annual physical completed to see what things you need to modify to support your health. Some places will pay when you get your annual physical completed, getting that done in a timely manner may mean more money in your pocket.
  • Review spouses insurance policy: If laid off, you will need to determine if you want to get COBRA to maintain health insurance or hop onto your spouses plan. Understanding your spouses plan will allow you to plan for additional costs that may occur.

Review other benefits as well. Some employers offer free financial advising from fiduciaries. Some offer resources for online training and development. Some have a recognition program where you get points to cash out for gift cards.  See what else can be done to either bring your house in order or to allow you to build skillsets up to make an impact.  

Update your LinkedIn and Resume

What were your roles in responsibilities in each of your roles? What were your key accomplishments? What have you done to show that you have saved money, made money, or saved time for the organizations you worked for? What technical and non-technical skillsets do you have to solve problems? Is there industry software that you know or can learn? Being able to articulate the value you provide will be critical for recruiters and hiring managers to see as a highly qualified candidate against your peers.

I highly recommend going on onetonline.org. This website is a cool resource where you can plug in a job role and the output is the roles/responsibilities, technical skills, educational requirements, salary, and everything you would need to know for success. While it won’t be company specific on what software to learn, you can pick up the general skillsets necessary to pivot to a new role this way.

What does a rockstar LinkedIn look like? It would have a clear and updated professional picture of you. It would have a professional background or banner photo. It would have what you did in each of your roles, key accomplishments/achievements, and skills. It would be optimized based upon what recruiters look for (perhaps some of the data from onetonline.org) to show that you have the skills necessary for the job. There would be a summary at the top of what value you have been able to and currently provide as well as opportunities where you would like to grow to.

Another recommendation is being active on LinkedIn and posting content from time to time. Having a rockstar LinkedIn profile is great, but it is a lot easier to be seen if you show engagement. Post something that provides value to others. Engage with your network.  

Recruiters or hiring managers reaching out to you thru will make it a lot easier to stand out compared to your peers. A lot of the time, you simply applying to a role will get your resume tossed in with hundreds of other applicants. Optimizing and utilizing LinkedIn skips that step and gets you to the front of the line to have those critical conversations for your career.

Consider seeking guidance. Some people will pay for assistance from recruiters to help optimize and prepare their resume, LinkedIn, and interviewing skills. If this interests you I would highly encourage you investigate.

Review your career prospects

This may be a blessing in disguise. If you have been with the same company for a long period of time, you may be underpaid compared to what value you provide to the company. Could you get a severance package and then hop to a new job making $10K, $20K, $30K or more? Market testing will show you exactly that.

Market testing is a regular activity that is done in purchasing and supply chain to see if there are new opportunities for suppliers that can provide more value. You need to act like a free agent and do the same for your career.

The more jobs you look at, apply for, interview for, and eventually get offers for, the most you can see what the marketplace pays for your skillsets today. As a part of this process, you may also see gaps in your own education that need to be fixed. Job postings may reference certain trainings or experience that you do not have. Job interviews may have you do some technical or non-technical work to test your knowledge in certain areas and functions of a job. Situational questions may identify reference experiences you may have not had gone thru in the work place that are useful in a career. Going through this process will help identify gaps where you can take actionable steps in order to fix.

Engage with your network. Getting hired in based on a recommendation from someone is going to get you more results than cold applying. People want people they can trust who bring results, a great work ethic, and who are smart.

Don’t make yourself a target

Continue to do great work. Continue to build great relationships with your people leader, higher management, and cross-functional stakeholders. Be a positive force in the workplace. Do not post negative things on social media or spend time around people that can put you in a negative light. Put the hours online and in the office in case there is activity or badge tracking. Meet your deadlines. Make or exceed your goals. Do not give them a reason to consider you for layoffs.

I have seen many examples where a layoff is announced, the workplace gets paralyzed with fear, and productivity plummets. The possibility of being laid off is all people talk about. It is natural, being laid off is one of the most personal things that can happen to you. Some people post negative things about the company online and on company platforms. Some of it may be true. Their senior leadership team may have lied or have been hypocritical with their communication. Communication on layoffs not planned, then occurring shortly after bragging about record profits. Lying about being able to remote work, then being forced to return to office with no real data to say why. Programs or items that were planned on development or launching now being scrapped. Saying to assume goodness, while people are now assuming layoffs.  Regardless of what the senior leadership team, or other people leaders have done, it doesn’t matter. What matters is what is happening to you now and what steps you can take to be resilient and mitigate your risks.

Be prepared for a transition period

Take a break. Re-evaluate your career goals. Plan your next steps. Consider freelance or contract work as a way to bring yourself money to cover your finance while you look for a full time job. Do the necessary self care needed to grow. Hit the gym. Seek others counsel. Spend time with friends and family to re-charge your battery. Do what you need in order to fill your cup back up and transition to a new full time job in the workplace.

The time to act is now

It is your duty and responsibility to provide for yourself and your loved ones. Don’t be caught flat-footed and risk ruining your finances and your future.