How to Survive a Layoff
We are told that the recession is easing,
but there are many people who are still feeling the squeeze. Some economists describe this phase as a "job - less recovery" and even in healthcare, lay offs and downsizing are still occurring.
Some employers have reduced work hours (for example, employees working 32 hours per week, instead of 40).
I am constantly asked, "What can I do to avoid or minimize a layoff?" While there is no magic formula to avoid the axe, there are definite strategies to increase your chances of flying under the radar and -if all else fails- to minimize the effects of being downsized.
1. Be indispensable. No one is immune from the axe, but the more valuable you prove yourself to be, the lesser the likelihood of being the first to go. I bet you are already overwhelmed, but I am telling you to take on even more work. Managers especially need help with special projects like gathering information for reports, preparing for CAP inspections, collating data and the like.
Volunteer to work extra hours (that's more money for you as well), volunteer to take over cleaning up the store room, reorganizing the bulletin board and tackling all those things that need to be done, but no one wants to do them. Another way to show your value and commitment is to identify opportunities for improvement in some process. Identifying ways to save money or reduce waste are also valuable feathers in your cap.
2. Don't have the "It won't happen to me" mentality. Be realistic. Do not be pessimistic and constantly stressed about the prospect of losing your job, but keep your options open and your resume fresh and ready, just in case. Continue to network and find out what's available in the local community. If you have the time, you might even want to get a PRN job. Again, this gives you extra money, plus gets you in the door. If it becomes necessary, the transition to that new employer will be easier.
3. Put some cash away for a rainy day. As difficult as it might be, get into the habit of putting some money aside from every pay check. Where can you find the money? You might have to cut out specialty coffees, try packing a lunch rather than buying lunch from the cafeteria or restaurant every day. One friend of mine puts away a dollar every time he "breaks" a ten dollar bill. Another writes a check to his joint account with his wife (both signatures required for withdrawal) as soon as he is paid.
Financial planners advise that one should have 6 months salary saved up in case of emergencies or unexpected job loss. More conservative experts say with the increased difficulty getting a new job, you are better off if you have saved the equivalent of 8 months salary.
4. Minimize debt. Now is not the time to increase your debt. Try to pay down debt since credit card companies are raising fees, sometimes arbitrarily. If you become unemployed or under-employed, you might be caught in the spiral of paying the minimum due-or even less. Only major essentials that are absolutely necessary - or small charges that you will pay off quickly- should be placed on credit. Luxuries and "just-nice-to-haves" are best postponed right now.
5. Be proactive. Start sending your resume out now. You don't have to be out of a job to search the classifieds and post your resume on the job boards. It can't hurt to have it out there. It's OK to even attend a practice interview or 2. Even if you don't think you'll be terminated soon. Think of it as your back up 'just in case" plan. Your emergency parachute, so to speak.
6. Know that you'll be alright. When a colleague of mine was laid off he found his true passion. He was a CFO but had always liked cooking. He started a catering business out of his home preparing ready to eat meals for his network in the industry. His speciality is complete heat and serve meals for the busy individual or family. But he now caters everything from weddings to parties and has employed his oldest daughter as his first employee.
You are not your job; you have transferable skills that can be used in many ways by people who are looking for what you have to offer. Having the attitude now, that you have skills, ambition and resilience, makes you feel less stressed now. That mindset will prove invaluable if you ever find yourself downsized or laid off.