A 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.