Layoffs: You May Be Next – Tips to Avoid, Prepare and React

by Darwin on February 12, 2009

What can you do to Prepare for or Mitigate a Layoff?

While there are myriad advice pieces on this topic of avoiding a layoff or finding a new job quickly, many of them are useless or complete common sense.  I’m sharing a few of the things I do to stay one step ahead of the pink slip and what I’ve done to prepare myself for a rapid recovery in the event of a layoff:


Network Now…Don’t wait for a Layoff:

When I say network, I’m not referring to dinner parties, but in an efficient, high-impact manner, you can very easily have tens or even hundreds of job prospects at your fingertips.  First, if you’re not on  LinkedIn right now, you should be.  List in your profile that you’re interested in “career opportunities”.  It’s commonplace and even your co-workers should not balk at this, because if they’re on their game, they’re set up the same way right now.  At first, I didn’t really see the value in LinkedIn.  It seemed to be rather annoying labyrinth of requests from various peers and friends to join their networks like any other social networking site.  However, what I found later was that LinkedIn is the prime space for headhunters.  They search for keywords like your job title, company name or specialty (I routinely get calls for “Purification” roles because I used to run a Biotech area…by logical deduction, I have to assume these calls from from LinkedIn searches, not from referrals).

Keep your Resume Up to Date – on your computer, not at work. It’s not uncommon for an employee to be told the bad news and either be walked off site immediately or be escorted by security to the desk to clean up and move out.  At the same time the bad news is being delivered, your computer access is being revoked and your computer confiscated.  Don’t assume you will be able to access one iota of data that you had stored on a work computer.  You should keep your resume, contacts and other pertinent information required in this situation on a personal computer or thumb drive.

Assess the Competition – While i like to consider my peers as teammates and partners, when the ax comes out, you have to assess where you fall in the pack.  Are you the newest to the group?  If so, you really need to make an impression and fast.  Old boy networking holds a lot of swagger and emotion if the boss needs to make a tough decision.  Conversely, are you the oldest in the group or considered “stale”?  The reality is that for a given role, the first to go is often the more senior/higher salary employees.  If you’re expecting your boss to justify your employment, there needs to be more than employee loyalty and tenure to turn heads.  There needs to be something special – excellent leadership skills, innovative/entrepreneurial drive, exceedingly high output/work ethic…there’s got to be something different about you.

Don’t act like an Idiot on the Internet – If you already have, do damage control and stop.  Regardless of what the legal ramifications are for employers prejudging a candidate (or penalizing an existing employee) for what they find on the internet, the reality is that hiring managers to skim Facebook, Myspace and Google for employee names and activity.  I had a fellow manager who used to look at MySpace for her employees and when she found that one of them showed system activity during work hours, she gave him hell.  Personally, I think that was a bit overboard, especially in today’s digital workplace (is he any worse than the woman sitting next to him on the phone constantly or another guy checking sports scores on – those activities are just tougher to log/print out for a discussion) and I’ve always focused on actual results for my folks.  But the reality is, this could be you.

Be Efficient and Realistic – If you’re networked properly and your profile and resume are attractive, you’re going to have headhunters calling you somewhat routinely.  Don’t become enamored with the lavish praise they lay on you with constant phone calls and emails courting you.  You’re just a commission to them.  If you end up returning every phone call or even worse, lining up interviews for roles you’re not really prepared to accept, you’re wasting your time, as well as potentially burning a bridge with an employer you may want to reach out to in the future.  I had one call where the total compensation increase was enormous, to the tune of probably 50-60%.  Then the reality set in that the extra money would barely cover the cost of living increase associated with living in Cambridge (ridiculously high priced), so financially, it was a wash!  And with no family, cold weather, and a loss of the security I have now, why take the risk?

I have to admit, the first couple times I got a call, I returned them, learned a bit about the offers, and then reality hit.  I’m not actually looking to leave.  Things are pretty good where I’m at: I was recently promoted, I enjoy my job, I have a good boss and peers, I get a decent salary (we all think we’re worth more, right?) and most importantly to me, I don’t want to move my family around every 3 years chasing the latest salary increase.  These types of interruption, secretive discussions and fruitless negotiations are really just a distraction to what you’re supposed to be doing – your real job.  Of late, I just don’t return the calls or I reply that I have commitments and can’t consider a move at the moment, but keep me in mind a few months out.

This just keeps the calls coming and lets me know that if the worst happens, I’m still in the game.

Other good Networking/Career resources:

Six Figure Jobs are getting to be harder to come by in the current economic environment. As the supply-demand equation has switched from a shortage of qualified workers and an abundance of firms looking to talent to many talented, experienced employees looking for work, it’s not quite the same as we saw during the boom years. That being said, there are new services and resources that didn’t exist previously. A wonderful resource that I enjoy is The Ladders where you can Search Only $100K+ Jobs. If you’re highly qualified and used to earn upwards of six figures, this service can greatly hone your search and it also limits the candidate pool to those with recent six-figure salaries.

The Ladders - Search Jobs by Region

And Once you Land that Job, Check out:

How to Profit from your Employee Stock Options Regardless of Share Price

Top 10 Highest Paying Degrees

How Does Deferred Compensation Work?

US Firms offer the Worst Severance Package: the Data

How to be Annoying at Work and Ruin your Career

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{ 1 comment }

1 dith November 4, 2009 at 8:46 am

i enjoyed reading all the articles and good luck!

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