In continuation of my earlier posts on things to do before you quit, this post describes what you should do before you are laid off.
A pink slip comes as a surprise to us, no matter how much trouble our employer is in or how bad our performance has nose-dived in recent months. We always think we are the best around. The boss will pick someone else if anyone has to go; not us.
With unemployment rising, there is no guarantee that you will get to keep occupying your chair at work. Even if there’s little to no chance of losing your job, you should still be prepared.
Prevention is better than a cure
Nothing beats an attempt to keep a job. In my position, I hire and fire employees. I’m impressed when I see someone exhibiting the following behavior, even if they are at the bottom of the performance graph compared to all others. I start rethinking things before letting them go. At times I have retained some of those late risers.
1. Become a boss’s man. If you are going, there’s a high chance your boss’s job is shaky as well. In that case, he’ll need help from his employees. Start helping him – ask what you could do to help and let him know about the good things you’re doing for him.
2. Put in more time at work. It’s easier to keep a job than find one. If there is a 30% job cut, that means 70% will keep their jobs. The decisions about who to keep and who to let go are based on performance, salary, and redundancy of position. Boost your performance by getting meaningful things done. Come in earlier. Stay later. Be more visible.
3. Be proactive in team meetings. Exhibit leadership at work. At the end of the year when I sit for appraisals, the thing that comes to mind first is how employees performed in the team meetings. Don’t talk for the sake of talking; that will go against you. Come up with solutions and show direction when needed. Be a thought leader.
4. Accept an increased workload. Before management starts planning to distribute your workload to others, proactively take some of the workload from others. For a company in trouble, there will be a lot of work toward preventing failure. You should stand up and bring out your best.
5. Accept mistakes and promise to do better. Discuss what you did wrong with your supervisor. Accept that you could have done better. Promise to do a lot better job. Verbal assurance stays in mind.
Gear up for the job market
When the writing on the wall and you don’t have any chance of survival, work toward getting a new job. Get your house in order and educate yourself as much as possible; there must be other takers around.
1. Brush up your resume. Your resume sets the first impression. Make sure it’s up to date with all the details of your latest work. Update contact details. Write about every award/recognition you received at your current employer.
2. Use LinkedIn to increase your professional network. One insider recommendation might get you the job. Add all LinkedIn suggested connections. I do get emails from 3rd or 4th level connections to introduce me to the other hiring managers in my organization.
3. Start applying for jobs. Use all possible methods to reach potential recruiters. Monster, Dice, and Careerbuilder are excellent online job application tools. Open a profile with all of them, upload your resume, and search for jobs. If you are able to move, expand your search to the cities you are willing to move to.
4. Start using your personal mailbox. Gradually decrease your dependency on work email. Any recognitions, awards, or training certificates should be forwarded to your personal email address. Do not transfer proprietary information; it might get you in trouble.
5. Learn, learn, and learn new skills. Nothing beats skills. Acquire new skills and brush up on existing ones. If your work schedule permits, learn while at work. Take online trainings and certifications.
6. Get in touch with past employers. I know people who have gotten their old jobs back with previous companies. Maintaining a good rapport with colleagues and especially the hiring managers at your old jobs helps you earn consideration for reëntry. Keep the gates open.
Make financial adjustments
You are about to lose your steady stream of income – this is the right time to cut your expenses and spend smarter if you are tapping in to your emergency fund.
1. Cut your expenses. Remember, during unemployment you’ll live on emergency savings. Cable TV, morning coffee, gym memberships, magazine subscriptions, eating out, and weekend bar trips are not necessary expenses. I understand some of these are to keep our soul happy, but can’t they wait for few months? Apply your judgment and cut the fat.
2. Secure insurance coverage. First, complete all pending checkups or preventative care appointments while you still have company group health insurance. Next, start researching private insurance plans. A few alternatives are COBRA, individual group health insurance, short-term health insurance, and high-deductible health insurance plans. Do not create an insurance coverage gap.
3. Start looking for side income. I know a few blogger friends who started blogging after a job loss. A successful blog is a money-making machine. Try to take up part-time employment. Your aim should be to depend as little as possible on benefits or your emergency fund. Every little bit helps. Popular side income includes, paid online survey, mystery shopping, staff writing. You can turn your hobby in to income.
4. Get the papers ready for your unemployment claim. Have a look at this government guide to filing for unemployment benefits, the best resource I could find on web.
5. Factor in Job search expenses. Get a phone plan that can support hours and hours of interviewing over the phone. If required try a land line phone for appearing in interview. Face to face interview would need you to travel.
6. Review employer benefits. People often overlook this one. Make sure you receive any compensation that your employer is supposed to provide. Try to negotiate your severance package if you are entitled to one. Generally, if the job loss is due to cost cutting, you should (although it’s not mandatory by law) receive compensation.
Get back every penny your employer owes you. Review stock options if you have any. En-cash your remaining leaves.
Change life habits
No matter how confident you are, job hunting when you’re unemployed is traumatic. It would certainly take a toll on your mind and body. Start taking care of both while you still have few weeks before the layoff.
1. Start exercising. Exercise keeps our body and mind in order. One thing you’ll need during unemployment is peace of mind and good health. You need to be energetic during interviews. No one likes to recruit a lazy fellow. A human manatee can keep a job, but it’s very difficult to get a new one. Eat healthy and stay fit.
2. Get involved in society. Get involved with family and friends – you need moral support, wherever it comes from. Use Facebook/Twitter to network online. A socially fulfilling life helps you regain your moral. Don’t hide the fact that you are going to be jobless. You might get unexpected help in finding a job from the people you already know.
3. Seek counseling. Getting a new job is much more difficult if you lack self-confidence. If you feel depressed, seek help. Frequent mood swings, lack of sleep, sadness, or sudden weight change are symptoms that require attention. Don’ neglect yourself.
Don’t learn these tricks the hard way after being laid off. Try to gauge the environment now. Regularly read online articles about your employer. At the first hint of trouble start preparing for the job loss.