Categorized | Advice

Tips on Readying Yourself for Job Loss

Posted on 07 April 2009

Disaster Preparedness: A 10-Point Plan

You must be ready to handle sudden career changes.

When I gave notice at my last job, my manager told me not to bother coming in anymore–that day was to be my last.

So, instead of enjoying a leisurely day at the office–saying goodbye to colleagues, tying up loose ends, and leaving early–I was diving through all my files. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t leave any personal business behind, wanted to bring home all my work samples. My quest to find a new, more life-fulfilling job began right there and then.

I wish I had thought about disaster preparedness beforehand.

Keep your resume updated, with some copies on good paper on hand. I always dread those midnight jaunts to Kinko’s.

Whether your industry is prone to layoffs or you just happen to have a finicky boss, no one should be caught off-guard in the event of job loss. By putting together a plan like this, you will always have one eye on the door and one ear to the ground:

1. Keep up your industry contacts. Stay in touch with your old boss, phone a colleague across the country just to compare notes, go to as many industry conferences and meetings as you can stomach, and introduce yourself to the unfamiliar faces.

2. Stay current on industry developments. This includes developments outside your own current job and company. Prospective employers and future colleagues will be impressed when you confidently spout your opinion on the latest news and gory trivia in your field.

3. Get references. Keep in touch with people in your network–the people you used to work with and work for who think most highly of you, are in the highest possible position, and can articulate your greatest assets. Keep their contact information current, and keep them informed about your latest accomplishments.

4. Keep your resume updated. You should always have clean copies on hand. You’ll have sweaty palms when you get ready to apply for a new gig only to realize you need to spend extra anxious hours whipping that document into shape. I always dread those midnight jaunts to Kinko’s.

5. Main your portfolio. Be sure that, when the ax falls and you have one hour to clean out your desk, you won’t be sweating the fact that you have all your work samples on the office computer, and nothing at home. Download them now and keep those copies at home. When my colleague Traci was getting ready to leave her job as assistant news director at a Dallas radio station, she stayed late every night for two weeks dubbing tapes. Shouldn’t she be home packing her bags for Boston and having one last drink with friends? Sure, but she needed to take home copies of the news stories and features she produced over her five-year career with the station.

6. Keep your hard drive clean. Delete personal messages and documents now so you won’t have to worry about what your replacement will do with what might be personal, sensitive information.

7. Maintain paper files. It’s good to leave your files in the most organized manner possible. You never know when you might be asked to return, or to work with your successor in another capacity. In fact, when I was asked to leave my miserable job as an actuary, my boss was so impressed with my mature attitude (I was 23 at the time) and enthusiasm about my remaining workload, he agreed to keep me employed for an additional two weeks.

8. Copy all personal information. Your work email account could be cut off even before you get the ax. If you want to make sure you have those ever-important email addresses of friends and colleagues, you’d better find a way to make a back-up copy of that information now. Consider photocopying your rolodex, and archive the contents at home. Even if you wind up needing just one of those phone numbers, it’ll be worth it.

9. Protect your finances. Do I really have to remind you to put away some money just in case that next paycheck doesn’t materialize? Believe me, you’ll be a lot better off when you’re in between jobs and you don’t have to resort to serving up a side of fries just to pay your phone bill. You’ll need all that free time to look for a great new gig anyway.

10. Keep an outfit handy. I might be caught off-guard if I happen to be called in for a face-to-face job interview. Does my good suit fit? Do all my shoes look scuffy? Try to keep something decent to wear to an interview, even if you’re in an industry that values the casual look.

Spend some time now preparing and getting organized. You’ll be glad you did.

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