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How to Prepare for a Layoff

Around the time that I was crossing the finish line of paying off my student loans, there was some uncertainty in the department in which I was working. I don’t want to get into the details here, but let’s just say that I had a feeling that I knew that my days were numbered (turns out, I was right).

I kept going with my aggressive debt payoff - I HAD to make this deadline (and I did - two weeks, in fact, before I got my walking papers).

But, while I was in the thick of it, I began wondering, how could I be prepared? How could I not be caught off-guard?

If this sounds like you, allow me to share some practical mindsets and tips:

1. Remember: a job is just a circumstance, and losing a job is just another circumstance. That being said, your thoughts about that circumstance are more important than the actual circumstance. The media often paints the narrative that massive layoffs mean massive pain. That may or may not be true (doesn't everyone hate their jobs anyway?); maybe a layoff is the push you've been needing.

2. Create a “In Case of Layoff” folder. This could be on your computer, in the cloud, or a physical folder. In it, you may want to store your resume, notes, etc. (I remember creating this, and it gave me a sliver of control when things were so uncertain). Keep all notes, resume drafts, etc. here. Think of it as an "In Case of Fire" glass you'd need to break.

3. Update your resume. Now’s a good time to update your resume with newly-acquired skills because you’re still in the thick of using them. (You may even want to create a longer Skill Inventory in your "In Case of Layoff" folder to document all the skills you've ever acquired, so you can concentrate on the ones you'd like to develop in your next career move).

4. Know Your Numbers. Do you know how much you need to live in terms of the Six to Survive? How much could you scale your numbers back? Regularly doing a budget can really help you pinpoint what you need to survive and thrive on.

5. Stockpile cash. While you have your job, consider beefing up your emergency fund.

6. Create short-term cash ideas. Consider driving for a rideshare company and/or register with a temp agency. Again, these are good ideas to keep in your "In Case of Layoff" folder.

7. Consider long-term career plans. If you get laid off, perhaps now's a good time to pivot to something new. Consider looking up a career coach on Google and see if someone out there can help you. If you’re absolutely dissatisfied with your situation, it can’t hurt to start having conversations.

8. Warm up contacts. Now may be a good time to grab some coffees or bites to eat with friends and peers who can keep their feelers out for you.

After I got laid off in 2015, I took some time out to be with my family overseas (which was time incredibly well-spent). Upon my return to the States, I managed to get a freelance job working at Warner Bros. and developed the next chapter of my career.

Although we humans tend not to like change, sometimes it can work in our favor.

If we take the right perspective. And we're prepared.

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