It might be current events. It might be a bad time for the industry you work in. It might even be some whispers in the hallway. Sometimes you get advanced warning or strongly suspect your job is in jeopardy through no fault of your own. This can create anxiety for yourself and worry about providing for your family. It can feel like things are beyond your control.
There are many things that you DO have control over. If you’re concerned a job loss is on the horizon, here’s some concrete steps you can take now to be better prepared if a job loss does indeed happen.
Update Your Resume
In an age of applying for jobs on company websites, resumes are still important. Take the time to tell your story using strong language to put your best foot forward. It is worth your time to make separate versions of your resume for specific opportunities you might be interested in. Carefully read a job listing for specific skills and make sure this same language is part of your resume. Finally, the resume you submit on company websites should be in Microsoft Word. Even if the company gives other file format options like PDF, always submit in Word. There are a few reasons, but the primary one is that the
software robots that do the first pass on a resume work best with Word. Submitting in a format besides Word runs the risk your resume might not make it to a live person.
Update your profile on LinkedIn to be as complete as you can. LinkedIn is the primary way many companies find new job candidates. Take time to update your profile with the same rigor you would a resume. Connect with some old colleagues to remind them you’re still around. Finally, LinkedIn will let you set alerts for jobs you might want and can easily apply for right in the app. Carefully review privacy settings to ensure your current employer does not pick up on this.
Reach out to former colleagues and contacts
Connections with former colleagues can be important if you need a reference at some point. This can also be a valuable source of information on new opportunities. A study found that 30% of hires came from referrals. Set yourself up for success here by keeping top of mind for people that know the great work you have done in the past and will do in the future. It can be awkward, but sometimes just coming out and saying to a friend; “I need a new job”, is the best way to go.
Get a jump on applying for jobs
Start scouting and applying for opportunities. Some potential employers move faster than others with their recruiting and interview process. The sooner you start, the sooner your potential new company will start their resume review process. Larger employers allow you to sign up for new job alerts or submit a general application. Speed is your ally here, so keep a vigilant watch on jobs that are at the top of your list.
Review budget and spending
The best time to make a budget was yesterday. The next best time is today. If you’re concerned about an interruption in employment and/or income, it is important to know where your spending is going. Take the time to get a handle on where your family’s dollars go every month. Then take some time, together with your spouse, to separate out spending that is non-critical. In other words, your water bill goes in one category and “going out to eat” money goes in a separate category. For the discretionary category, think about what you can reduce or eliminate now or what you would eliminate in the event someone loses their job.
Check your emergency fund
Everyone needs an emergency fund for a variety of reasons. The potential for job loss is a time when an emergency fund is incredibly valuable. If you don’t have money set aside for this purpose, start right away and use this checklist for how to get ramped up.
Check your current employer’s policies
Most mid-size to large employers have a clearly defined handbook or policy guide where you can find this information. First, find their policy on layoffs and if any severance is a possibility. This may depend on your job level or years of service with the company. A key part of this is notice. Look for guidance on what notice may be provided when a layoff is announced. This will give you an idea of how much time you have to work with. Next, look for how benefits like health insurance are treated in the event your employment ends. Finding this out ahead of time will let you know what to expect if a layoff happens. Finally, look for any other benefit impacts like payment for accrued vacation time.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 ESV
Finally, remember you control much more than you might think. It’s easy to be pulled into a state of mind where you believe events are beyond your influence. It is true that some things are beyond us all, but focus on what is in your domain. Job loss fear does not have to control you. You can be in charge of what happens next.
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