Over the years, I’ve seen my share of layoffs. I’ve seen co-workers get escorted off the premises, and I’ve seen people given a 2 weeks notice. Either way, it always comes as a shock. Most people I know NEED their paychecks. And when that is cut-off, people react in a bunch of different ways.
You get a few people that are just absolutely stunned, they believe that they don’t deserve to be laid off, and that there are others that were somehow more deserving of a termination. There are others that look at it as “heck, I was unhappy anyway… good riddance.” And then there are even others that look at it like its an opportunity to make a change in their lives.
I originally started this series of posts thinking about how you can prepare yourself for a layoff. But what I ended up writing about was a more of a set of tips for dealing with the entire layoff process, from preparing yourself before the layoff to dealing with things after the layoff.
What I’ve come to realize is that there really isn’t anything you can do to prepare yourself mentally for a layoff. It will always come as a shock no matter if you are given a month’s notice or you are told to leave now. I guess there is always something in the back of your mind that says, “It won’t be me” regardless of how much evidence there is to the contrary.
As pessimistic as this may sound, the best way to prepare yourself for a layoff, is to be ready for one at all times. Even if you have no clue a layoff is coming (and some companies are really good at disguising their layoff plans), here are a few things you can do to make getting laid off a little easier on yourself:
Have a nest-egg.
Your parents probably have been telling you this for most of your life, but nothing makes getting laid off easier than having a savings. Most financial advisors suggest having enough money in savings to last 3-6 months without a job. Losing your job is the reason why. You don’t have to put away huge chunks of money every month, but dedicate yourself to saving a few dollars here and there. Believe me, when you are laid off, you will appreciate that you have some money put away for emergencies like this.
Make sure you have an email address outside of work.
There are many free email providers out there, like Google and Microsoft, that will give you a permanent web-based email address. Take advantage of these services before you are laid off. I’ve known a few people that only used their work email addresses, and when they got laid off, there was no way people could contact them via email. You don’t want this to ever happen.
Keep your network of friends active.
Sometimes its easy to let work and family take priority over friendships. But if you ever get laid off, it will be your network of friends that could potentially make things easier on you. You don’t have to have constant contact with your network, just make sure that people don’t feel like you only talk to them when you need something from them. This only takes a few hours a month at the least. You never know when one of your friends might need someone with your skills to help them out.
Update your resume.
The longer you work at a job, the more out of date your resume becomes. Unless you have been actively looking for a job, or you’ve been through this before, chances are your resume is stale. It might not even have your latest contact information or employment information in it. Freshen up your job skills and accomplishments.
Backup your files.
Make sure you back up your files to a CD/DVD while you can. Because when the axe falls, you probably won’t get a chance to gather your contact lists and other personal files off your computer.
Rarely do these layoffs come as a complete suprise. Unless you go to work with blinders on, you’ll see signs of a company struggling. Has the company lost a couple of big clients recently? Are there senior staff members resigning unexpectedly? Has the company stopped replacing people that quit? Have they stopped or limited ordering office supplies? If these things are happening around your company, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to start preparing yourself for a layoff.