Preparing for a Layoff

What You Can Do Before You Lose Your Job

Woman with moving boxes in office, thinking
••• Tim Kitchen / The Image Bank / Getty Images

Have you noticed some things going on at work that make you think your job could be in danger? Maybe your employer lost a couple of big clients or earnings have been shrinking. Perhaps some of your coworkers have already been laid off. Of course you are concerned that you'll be next—who wouldn't be worried? Rather than sitting around fretting, you should instead start planning for the future. While it may feel better to live in the moment (after all you are still employed) and hope for the best, there are things you can do before you lose your job that can actually help you move forward more quickly.

  • Get Your Resume Ready: Rather than write or update your resume when you have to start a job search, prepare one in advance. Hopefully you've kept your resume up-to-date by adding relevant items as they happened or at least kept a running list of them. That is much easier than trying to remember your accomplishments and the skills you've acquired months or even years earlier. If you didn't—unfortunately many people don't—get started immediately. Don't wait for your brain to be in a panic as you set out to find a new job as quickly as you can. It will be even more of a challenge to try to recall information while you're in that state of mind.
  • Keep Your Network Alive: If you've been neglecting your network while you've been plugging away at work, you are in very good company. People tend to lose touch with their contacts when they are busy with other things. Then they find themselves scrambling to get in touch when they need help with something, like a job search for example. It is a much better idea to actively network while you're still working. Check in with your contacts by phone or email once every few months. Take advantage of the holiday season to get in touch. Always seize the opportunity to help others when they ask. They may someday return the favor.
  • Sharpen Your Skills: You began your current job with a certain skill set. You strengthened some of your skills and likely acquired new ones during your time there. There are others you haven't had the opportunity to use and they may have weakened over time. Find out what skills will make you most marketable if you should have to look for a new job. Take an inventory of which ones you have, which you need to strengthen and which you need to acquire. Then go ahead and figure out how to do that. Do you have to take some courses or can you learn on your own?
  • Pursue a Career Change: Have you been thinking about a career change? Your reasons may range from simple boredom with your current career to a poor outlook for your occupation or industry. If you can get the training to pursue a new career while you are still employed, you will be much better off. Once you complete your training, you can begin to look for a job in your new field. If you have to deal with a job search anyway, you might as well put your energy toward searching for something in a career field you want to be in.
  • Always Take Time for Yourself: A job loss and the job search that will inevitably follow it will be very stressful. The stronger you are emotionally before it happens, the better you will be able to withstand the ordeal. Keep your mind healthy by doing things for yourself. Practice relaxation techniques, take time for a hobby, exercise and spend time with supportive friends and family.