7 Ways to Survive a Layoff

7 Ways to Survive a Layoff

By Cherie Berkley, Special to PayScale.com

A slumping economy may be a red flag that layoffs are close behind. Does hearing about Yahoo layoffs, a Chevron layoff, and a Sallie Mae layoff make you feel nervous about your own job stability? Stop hiding under your desk and take control. Here are 7 ways to help you keep the pink slip at bay when the economy is down.

1. Plan ahead. Most times you will be tipped-off by layoff rumors circulating around your office (or in the press, as was the case for the Yahoo layoffs in early 2008).  This is your warning to create a plan of action. Start by assessing how valuable you think your job or department is (or is not) to the company. This is a critical time to stay on your Ps and Qs. Be punctual, maintain good relationships with co-workers, dress professionally, and continue to work hard. But also keep an eye out for other job opportunities as a safeguard. Have an updated resume ready to go. Forgoing lavish shopping sprees is likely a good idea, too. Put any extra cash into your savings account so you have a cushion to fall back on.

2. Network, network, network.  If you suspect layoffs are on the horizon, start connecting with your network. Let people know you are looking for a new job and send them an updated resume. Additionally, don’t stop meeting new people. Research professional organizations and find out when and where they meet. If you haven’t already, sign up for an online professional social network like Linkedin. And, ask friends for other networking ideas.

3. Stay positive. Getting laid off stinks, but whether you’re anticipating a layoff or have already become a victim, you can’t let it completely steal your joy. Be careful not to depress or annoy your friends and contacts with sob stories. You will be more productive and attractive to employers with a positive attitude.

4. Don’t burn bridges. Often, people who get laid off score big by becoming a contractor or consultant for the same employer. The upside is that consultants usually make more money than full-time employees. Also, contracting puts money in your pocket while you continue to look for salaried work. Even if your employer can’t rehire you in another capacity, someone there may happily give you a lead elsewhere – if you stay in good graces.

5. Follow a dream, keep learning. A layoff can sometimes be a blessing in disguise. If it happens to you, it may give you the final push you need to start a business venture long deferred. Is your dream to go back to school? Getting another degree or certification may give you a serious advantage in landing a new gig.

6. Take care of yourself. Being laid off, or anticipating it, can be one of the most stressful periods in life. You will be no good to your current or prospective employer if you don’t take care of your main asset: you! Continue working out, or get started, to manage stress levels. Don’t forget to eat a healthy diet, too.

7. Be flexible. Finding a new job takes time – often more than we’d like. Be patient in your job search but also be flexible enough to broaden your interests so you don’t limit your options in an already tight job market.

Avoid a Layoff Before It Comes
The best way to avoid a layoff is to prepare long before there’s a threat. Here are some quick tips:

  • Be a problem solver, not a problem causer.
  • Look like a winner: dress to impress and project confidence.
  • Keep smiling and have a good attitude.
  • Work hard and help others along the way.
  • Keep your skills fresh. Stay current with training – even if you have to pay for it yourself.