Don’t Let a Layoff Catch You Off Guard

The other day while at work, a friend of mine grabbed some papers from the fax machine and noticed a resume submission for her job. A few days later, she observed her boss interviewing the person for a job. Putting two and two together, she determined that her job was in trouble. In a preemptive effort, she met with her boss to let him know she liked her job and that if he had any concerns to please let her know. After hemming and hawing, he told her there were no guarantees.

This is the state of jobs today. Employers don’t feel loyalty toward their employees. My friend had never been told her work was substandard, and yet, for some reason, her boss decided she was expendable.

Most employees are unprepared for a layoff, not only financially, but professionally as well. In these uncertain times, it pays to be prepared for a job layoff. Here are some tips to help you be ready in case you experience a layoff.

1. Do your best work. Being a valuable employee is the best way to avoid a layoff, but it’s no guarantee. With that said, good work can lead to positive letters of reference or referrals that can speed up the process of finding a new job.

2.  Create a personal brand.  Broken down into its essence, your personal brand defines your strengths and principles in terms of your value to your employer or future employers. Knowing your brand makes it easier to convey your qualities in a resume.

3. Keep your resume up-to-date. While a resume lists your job experience, it’s also the place to describe leadership roles, such as taking the lead on a project, awards and recognition, and courses or additional certifications in your field. Keeping your resume current means you can get it out to potential employers quickly.

4. Stay connected with your professional network. Richard N. Bolles, author of What Color is Your Parachute, reports that networking is one of, if not the most effective way to find a job. Professional associations and LinkedIn offer ways to stay connected with your network, share your personal brand and, if necessary, find a new job.

5. Sharpen and expand your skills. Your job may not have required you to stay current on skills or trends, which can be a problem when looking for work.  Research online and engage your network to learn what skills you can sharpen or learn to improve your job marketability.

My friend didn’t wait around to see if she was going to be laid off. Over the years, she stayed in touch with a previous employer, so she called him up and learned he was looking to fill a position she was qualified to do. After a talk with HR at her former employer, she was offered the job and is now preparing to give notice to her current employer. She wouldn’t have been prepared to move so quickly if  she hadn’t kept her resume current or her network intact. But since she was prepared, she was able to take charge and “layoff” her employer instead of the other way around.


Leslie Truex is a career design expert who has been helping people find or create work that fits their lifestyle goals since 1998 through her website Work-At-Home Success. She is the author of “The Work-At-Home Success Bible” and “Jobs Online: How To Find a Get Hired to a Work-At-Home Job”. She speaks regularly on career-related topics including telecommuting and home business.