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10 Tips to Weather the Layoff Storm

It seems we have sauntered from The Great Resignation to The Great Layoff Expectation. There are so many announcements about the layoffs happening these days that employees are becoming jittery, wondering when it will be their time.

Of course, layoffs happen all the time, and they are difficult for those affected, but the disrespectful, and unconscionable ways in which they are happening these days is doubly hurtful. Employees being laid-off / fired over Zoom, email, text, is inhumane!

The reality is that none of us are insulated from layoffs. Although the news is usually shocking, layoffs don’t just happen. Invariably, there are subtle signs that things are amiss, and as companies make these critical business decisions, struggle to maintain a tighter rein on costs, and create “simpler nimbler” structures, job seekers can do their part to weather the layoff storm, if and when it comes.

  1. Keep an eye out for tell-tale signs in your company.

If you are becoming a bit jittery at work because things don’t seem right, and if the grapevine is quite active, conduct your own due diligence. Has the company been in the news lately? What for? Did it meet analysts’ expectations? Did it have a management shakeup? Are there dramatic fluctuations of its share price? This is not to suggest that you become paranoid, but you also don’t want to be the ostrich with its head in the sand. The answers to these questions will be a good indicator of where your company is heading and if you should jump ship.

  1. Take advantage of professional development opportunities offered by the company.

Many employees do not take advantage of their company’s professional development offerings. These may be formal training where you attend classes outside of work, or free in-house courses offered as lunch-and-learn programs. Even if your company does not offer training, don’t forget the myriad of elearning programs available on the Internet, but also on LinkedIn Learning. Although your job may appear safe at the moment, it doesn’t mean you should stop learning.

  1. Be on the lookout for internal vacancies, and assess yourself to see if your skills match the requirements.

Speak with someone within that department to gather additional information about the position and then submit your application. In addition, climbing the career growth ladder might sometimes mean having to make a lateral career move, so be flexible.

  1. Find out if there are opportunities to job-shadow another employee or be cross-trained on a system.

Such initiatives will put you ahead of your competitor, or prepare you for your next career opportunity, whether within or outside the company.

  1. Arrange career conversations and informational interviews to keep abreast of industry developments.

Career conversations are similar to informational interviews but they are usually initiated by your manager. Don’t wait for that to happen. Be proactive. Arrange a meeting to discuss your career aspirations, growth and development. Informational interviews tend to be arranged with people outside your company. They allow you to learn more about a field you are interested in, or to keep current with trends in your industry. These two approaches are not mutually exclusive, so be alert to see if you can use any of the knowledge gained to enhance your current position.

  1. Start a journal of your special achievements, comments made by your supervisor or coworkers, and awards and recognitions received.

Review your performance appraisals. What did your supervisor say about you? What special projects did you work on, and what role did you play? Check your email for messages from vendors, coworkers, even your boss, that attest to your capabilities. All these notes will come in handy when you are ready to brush up your résumé, and articulate your successes in interviews.

  1. Develop and nurture a network of contacts, even if you’re not yet looking for a job.

Many people have the misconception that networking is “brown-nosing,” or it’s done only when one is job hunting. Those are myths. Networking is an ongoing process that takes time to grow, but when you nurture your network, it becomes very valuable when faced with a layoff, or when changing careers. As author Harvey MacKay said, you should “dig your well before you are thirsty”.

  1. Join professional associations, and contribute.

Some people join professional associations but do not participate; they do not volunteer for leadership positions. Their goal in joining the association is to beef up their resumes. Contributing allows you to learn new skills, meet new people and build credibility among your peers. Also, many organizations send their job postings to some of these associations before they hit the job boards. Demonstrating that you are an active member of a professional association will be a great addition to your résumé.

  1. Find a mentor, and ask for help.

Is there someone whom you admire in or outside your company? Contact that person and ask if he or she would be willing to be your mentor. Even if they cannot, you could still discuss your uncertainties or your career plans with them. It’s never a weakness to ask for help.

  1. Embrace change.

There are times when a layoff is just what you may need to propel you to action; to change careers; to do something different. Redirect your energy into something productive and don’t feel sorry for yourself. Take a long hard look at where you are in your career. Are you satisfied? Have you reached a plateau in the company? Is it time for a change?

Bottom Line

After all this, if you are still uncertain about your future, enlist the help of a career coach who can steer you in the right direction. Whatever you do, make proactive choices now, not reactive ones later.

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Article first published by the author on Job-Hunt.Org.