I encounter so many people who are shocked when they get laid off, fired or even demoted. I’ve seen junior level people get laid off after working for a company for six months. I’ve also seen a top manager running a company get booted out after 10 years. Some people land a job quickly and move on with their lives swiftly. But most people are so blindsided and unprepared by their lay off, that they can fall into depression, desperation and emotional turmoil.
My story: After a couple years of working at HuffPost, I was so convinced I was going to get laid off. I loved my job and co-workers but sometimes you really need to read the writing on the wall and not ignore the signs in front of you in the hopes of being optimistic. In the end, despite all the rounds of layoffs at the company, I wasn’t let go but left for a better opportunity. I learned so much from seeing other people get laid off, that I learned a truly valuable lesson.
Don’t be pessimistic about a potential layoff, be prepared.
NEVER STOP INTERVIEWING
People get too comfortable in their jobs way too often. It’s a nice feeling to have a secure job. But don’t forget that the security of your job may not last forever. Interviewing for other jobs (even when you aren’t actively looking for a new job) is a fantastic way to make industry connections. Example: My friend interviewed with a big PR agency for a junior position last year. The interview went well but she was honest and told them to keep her in mind for a more senior level position later on if one opened up. That was a ballsy move, my friend is only 27! But the move worked. They contacted her last week and told her a senior position opened up and want her to come in for an interview.
I don’t think you always need to be going out on formal interviews, but send your resume around regularly, meet with people for coffee, hop on a phone call with potential managers to just chat. You don’t want to be in a situation where you’re scrambling for a job and your interview/people skills are rusty.
LOOK FORWARD EMOTIONALLY AND FINANCIALLY
As I said earlier, I was a bit paranoid that I was going to get laid off. I had my goodbye letter drafted in my email four months before I left my job. I knew exactly where I would go for a drink if I got laid off. I opened a separate bank account just for emergency funds. I was doing a lot lol. But I’m glad I did all those things. It’s easier to handle a life change when you are prepared and ready for it.
ALWAYS KEEP YOUR RESUME UPDATED
I’ll keep preaching this: Keep your resume, LinkedIn profile and portfolio up to date. This isn’t something you should do, it’s something you need to do. It comes off unprofessional when someone asks for your resume and you say, “Oh I’ll get it to you next week…I have to update it.” Also add your new skills and take off ancient ones that no one cares about. Why do you have Final Cut 7 on your bullet point of skills when you fully know Final Cut X Pro?
MAKE COPIES OF IMPORTANT THINGS
If you get laid off or fired, your work email is typically shut down immediately. All your contacts and messages will be gone. I would screenshot important things or conversations and send them to my personal email. You don’t want your hard work to be lost, so make a copy of things and send them to yourself. This is a little extra work but can be super helpful in the future.
DON’T OVERESTIMATE YOUR VALUE
People think they are so valuable to a company that there’s no way they will get laid off. This is a major mistake. You can be the hardest working, most loyal employee and still get laid off. It can happen to literally anyone. Recognize your hard work but don’t think it’s the defining factor of your employment status.