Updated on 05.04.07

My Company Just Announced Huge Layoffs And I’m Afraid My Position Will Disappear: Seven Things You Need To Do Right Now

Trent Hamm

LaborA friend of mine works for CitiGroup in South Dakota, which is about to experience some massive layoffs. He’s a bit worried about what’s coming down the pike, and so he asked me what I thought he should do. Here’s my advice to him, as well as anyone else who is facing a potential layoff in the near future.

Don’t doubt yourself Getting laid off with a giant swath of people because of an overarching corporate decision is not your fault at all. Do not start believing that you are somehow at fault. The only time a layoff is your fault is if you are individually targeted due to negligent work behavior, and a broad layoff is simply not that. Almost everyone who might hire you will see that, so don’t let that bother you, either. You’ll have solid references and a good story that doesn’t involve burnt bridges when you leave.

Polish your resume This is the obvious thing to do. It never hurts to keep your resume polished at all times, but now is a great time to make sure that your resume is polished. You might also want to touch base with your professional contacts for possible employment opportunities right now.

Start an emergency fund now Start cutting fat from your spending immediately. Don’t hesitate another second to do this. If you are laid off, then this money could be the difference between making a housing payment and going into default. Even if you’re not laid off, this money will eventually come in handy for something else. Take as much as you can and sock it away immediately into a high-interest savings account.

Reduce overpayments Are you making “extra” mortgage payments or overpaying on other debts at the moment? Cut this down to the minimum payments for now, so that you can put that extra money away into your emergency fund.

Know your compensation package Don’t be afraid to ask around and see what your potential severance package would be like. If you’re in an impending layoff situation, there’s going to be a lot of fear and rumor mongering going on around the office. Sit down with your boss and ask for facts, particularly in terms of what happens if you (or others in your shoes) would be laid off. If the layoffs are broad and sweeping, your company will probably have an informational meeting or two to try to quell the office talk, so ask during that meeting. Know what tools you’ll have available to you.

Do some reading I found this collection of articles on surviving layoffs at FastCompany quite worthwhile in terms of how to handle actually being laid off. Know what it means for your career and how you can best balance the layoff with your further aspirations.

Do some careful life evaluation Perhaps your life is telling you something. Now may be the perfect time to rethink what you’re doing with your life and with your money. Pick up Your Money or Your Life and give it a thorough, thoughtful reading. Go through the free program I’ve set up, 31 Days to Fix Your Finances. Figure out where you’re really headed with your money and with your life.

Diligently following these seven steps will put you in a great position to deal with that potential pink slip. Don’t get disheartened when you see it – if you’ve laid the foundation, it can actually be an opportunity to follow other goals.

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  1. Eric says:

    In 2002 I was laid off and it was the best thing for me. The compensation was effectively 4 months of pay, 3 upfront so I could start collecting unemployment right away. I applied for the NYS “599” program that allowed me to continue collecting unemployment while “training”. In my case it was finishing a BA 3 semesters worth of work in 12 months.

    The day after graduation I was working again.

    Ask about things like retraining benefits and other grants since they made all the difference to me.

  2. Nathania Johnson says:

    I’ve been laid off a couple of times, so I have a couple of tips.

    1. Look for and apply to other jobs. Many times, the atmosphere that remains in the workplace after layoffs is difficult. Even if you don’t get the pink slip, you might not want to stay.

    2. If you do get laid off, be prepared to take a job with a lower salary than you currently have. Otherwise, you may spend alot of time in unemployment.

    3. Figure out a way to buy COBRA. A lapse in your health insurance could cost you more money in the future – especially if you have pre-existing conditions.

    4. Taking a part time job or temp job could make you more money than receiving an unemployment check. However, unemployment offers you the time you need to job search and interview.

    5. Don’t assume you’ll get another job right away. After my first layoff in 2005, I applied to around 100 jobs and went on interview after interview. Even moving back home didn’t provide a quick fix.

    6. Reduce your bills of any extras. Get basic cable or stop cable altogether. Stop the texting and mobile web on your cell phone. You can always get them back after you start a job.

  3. How about trying to get a promotion? Lots of times big layoffs are associated with big reorganizations, and that means tons of jobs being destroyed and tons of jobs being created. If you have any transferrable skills you may be able to find your way out of the union and into management or switch into another department.

  4. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Good tips, all of them.

  5. jake says:

    Nathania hit it right on the spot with health coverage. Many people take this for granted.

    I read a lot of finance forums and the one thing that constantly shows up is how people were thrown off guard by a medical emergency when they had no insurance.

    Many of the horror stories about bankruptcy and home foreclosures involves not being able to pay medical bills resulting from having no health insurance.

    You might think that one or two months between jobs with no health insurance is nothing much, but things happen, and its surprising that people keep saying “I never expected it to happen to me,” yet it does. This becomes more crucial if your family depends on your health coverage.

  6. Tim says:

    don’t forget to get info on collecting unemployment benefits in your state.

    start looking for a job now…post the resume. if you are competing with all the other people who are going to get laid off, there is no time to be idling around feeling sorry for yourself when those people are going to be looking for the same jobs as you. get yourself out there now.

  7. Sandy says:

    Sometimes, it works out to your advantage if you have an additional, marketable skill. My husband (boyfriend at the time) was let go from his employer (this is about 20 years ago). The way we view life is that one needs to be open to whatever the universe has in store for you…yes the Law of Attraction. (Please don’t tell me this doesn’t work, because in my life, it has worked from the day I started using it). Anyway, we kept these ideas in mind and he got 2 great job offers within a few weeks. But, he decided not to take them, as the company that he was previously with called him back after they realized that he was fluent in Spanish, and they needed someone in Europe to handle the Mediterranean Region. His Spanish skills made him a perfect candidate. We got married (Fast!) and moved over there, where for the next 3 years, we lived rent-free, with all expenses paid, and one of the side benefits was the option of coming home once per year, or anywhere in the world for the same amount of money. (We opted for Thailand and Egypt), plus we were able to travel all over Europe, picked up German (that’s where we were based), and my husband picked up Italian, as well. Needless to say, getting fired was one of the best things that ever happened to us…but use the Law (positive thinking, affirmations, forgiveness, asking)and good will come!
    Actually, that experience led us to several lucrative life experiences abroad, and at the moment, my husband is being considered for a position in China.

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