Top Tips To Step Beyond A Layoff: An Emergency Survival Kit

This blog is copyright Pathfinder Writing and Career Services LLC –
It’s probably a fair thing to say that many of us have arrived at our current or most recent career destination through connections, chance postings, and sometimes, sheer, dumb luck with the perfect alignment of the stars, moon, and the sun… basically happening through a series of circumstances. It’s a rare thing to find someone these days that can draw a straight line from their education right into their vocation.

But what happens when circumstances turn against you, and the unexpected occurs? Companies struggle financially, then suddenly shut their doors, leaving bewildered workers with nowhere to turn.

Or perhaps, an employer stealthily plans layoffs behind closed doors then suddenly swoops down upon unsuspecting workers, handing out pink slips. And before the person even knows what is happening, they are escorted out the door. The world, it seems, has just collapsed.

Regardless as to whether this sounds familiar to you or not, you should always have your ‘insurance policy’ ready to go at a moment’s notice. The worst thing that can happen is that you are caught unaware and unprepared.

Mind you, this policy isn’t one you can purchase. Instead, it’s called career management and involves strategically planning your “A” game while having your “B” game back-up plan constantly running in the background in case the nightmare scenario becomes a reality.

The “A” game involves making yourself as indispensible as possible where you are working now with this in mind: the job may be eliminated, but you won’t be.

The “B” game is your ultimate insurance policy: making preparations either for future job transitions we can’t control or being ready to respond nimbly to new opportunities.

Here are the top tips that you should follow to survive a layoff or be the first in line for a new opportunity:

1) Keep your résumé updated. Don’t be caught unawares with a career document that hasn’t been touched in five years. You should update your résumé every six months. If it isn’t relevant to you, how can you expect an employer to take it seriously either?

2) Showcase your accomplishments in your résumé. Employers care about what you accomplished at each company where you worked so they can make a decision of what you might be able to do for them. Dumping in your job duties with a quick cut and paste is actually doing yourself a disservice. Why wouldn’t you want to showcase your value by showing what you did, how you did it, and what the end result positively impacted the employer?

3) Build your network. The power of your Rolodex (or these days, your LinkedIn contact base) could be the source of your next job. Or, they can be an important support group if you get laid off. The point is that you need to actively cultivate your friends, professional colleagues, and people that you meet and treat them as valued connections. DON’T be a ‘user’ – only contacting a person once, using them, and then throwing them away. No one ever wants to be used by someone else.

4) Identify your next career targets, and move towards them. Where do you want to go? Is it an easy next step, or are there some obstacles between where you are now and where you want to go? Someone once said, “Success means knowing where the hockey puck is going to be.” If you can see your next career destination on the horizon, then chart your professional course in that direction. Figure out who you need to know, what skills you need, and what other things you might need to make a landing on your new career beachhead.

5) Build your knowledge base. Do everything you can to increase your knowledge and understanding of a specific field. Becoming a subject matter expert can help catapult you into the arena as a top industry talent, and become a highly sought-after commodity. Any employer hiring right now is looking for the best value for the position that they are going to fill. If you offer cutting edge expertise, you’ve just upped your hiring quotient significantly.

6) Demonstrate your leadership. By volunteering and being a member of the right industry organizations will establish your professionalism. Additionally, leaders give back, and that hits a home run with employers, as they like to leverage the leadership within the communities that their employees offer as an indirect benefit to the employer.

Managing all of these aspects of your career will ensure that you are moving your “A” plan forward while managing your backup “B” plan. You should never be caught unaware, and should always be ready to go at a moment’s notice. In addition to positioning yourself effectively, this can also give you peace of mind.