My company fired nearly 1,000 people this past week. That was in addition to 5,000 last year. There already is speculation that more will come. Fear of a job loss is a frequent topic of conversation around the office and I have found myself in a position of counseling many of my coworkers. Here is some of the advice I give them and unless you are in a tenured position everyone might want to consider:
1. Update your resume: This one seems obvious to me, because I have changed jobs several times over the past decade and my resume is either up to date or one hour of time away from being updated. But, some of my coworkers who lost their jobs have worked at the company for 10 or even 20 years and have not thought about looking for work.
2. Sign up for online job updates. Most of the job sites have a service whereby you can be sent daily or weekly job alerts based on keywords that you can set up. Even if you do not start applying, it is comforting to see that there are jobs available.
3. Research other companies in your field or fields that you might want to work in. Check news stories to see if they have just gotten a big contract, stimulus money or anything else that may lead to job creation. Keep this list handy in case you need to start contacting them. Notice, I did not advise to wait until they have a job posted- the idea is to reach out to them before they advertise positions.
4. If you work for a large company, network inside your company. Get to know people in other divisions or departments. These contacts may lead to a new position within the company.
5. Think about your unique skills that could lead to setting up your own company. While you are employed, start the research needed to make it happen and talk to people who you might want to partner with. Even if you aren’t ready to try and start the company, you can create a web address and reserve it through a hosting site like Godaddy, research the types of corporate structures and how to set them up, etc to generally be prepared.
6. Look into taking on some consulting projects on the side. One place to look is with vendors that you worked with in a previous job or that no longer work with your company. This will help you stash away some extra savings and could be a first step into consulting full time, either until you find a new job or as a new career if you lose your current one. Be careful to only do your consulting work on your own time and make sure there are no conflicts of interest with your current employer.
7. For vendors that currently work with your company- don’t try to consult with them now (it could be perceived as a conflict) but make sure you have the contact names and phone numbers of their key people at home. This way, if you do lose your job, you have a way to contact them.
Doing even some of these things will, if nothing else, help you be mentally prepared and possibly even excited to find sources of income or a new career if the pink slip comes your way.