When you hear that layoffs are coming around the pike, it's natural to feel fear and anxiety. However, getting early notice either directly or through the grapevine is a blessing, and it can give you the edge you need to minimize your unemployment period.
Now is not the time to panic – it's time to act. Here's a list of the first steps you should take before you get the dreaded pink slip.
1. Update your LinkedIn
With three out of every four recruiters using LinkedIn to find candidates, you can't afford to let your LinkedIn profile languish. Update the bullet-points under your most recent position with your top-line accomplishments, putting an emphasis on numbers.
No need to change your employment status just yet. You can, however, privately signal to recruiters that you're looking for new opportunities. Under the Career Interests tab of your profile, find the header "Let recruiters know you're open" and flip the switch to On. That will open the door to new possibilities without being ostentatious about it.
2. Take stock of your finances
One of the scariest things about layoffs coming is the impact it can have on your finances. As soon as you hear about the layoff, you should begin thinking more critically about money.
Career coach Kristin Schuchman says, "Don't avoid looking at your budget. It can be really tempting to think, 'I'm not going to think about it, so it's not going to be a reality.' Getting a good look at where you are financially is key."
A bare-bones budget consists of four categories:
- Needs (e.g. rent, groceries, phone);
- Wants (e.g. hobbies, entertainment, travel);
- Savings; and Debt.
There's not much you can do to change the dollar amount of your necessary spending; however, you can cut a great deal of your discretionary spending. You may want to temporarily shut down your Netflix and Spotify accounts or delay an upcoming vacation.
Take a close look at your debt, as well. Federal student loans, for example, offer several options for delaying payment during unemployment. While you can apply for forbearance or deferment, your best bet is signing up for an income-based repayment plan. Since your income will be $0, you won't have to pay on your loan. Meanwhile, each month that goes by is one month closer to loan forgiveness.
Ultimately, if you end up unemployed, you may need to dip into your emergency savings funds. Experts say you should have at least three to six months' worth of living expenses set aside. While the paychecks are still coming in, put as much into your emergency account as possible.
3. See your doctor
Anyone who's been laid off has experienced the sticker shock of seeing their COBRA premiums for the first time.
COBRA is a federal law that gives former employees who lost their employer-sponsored health benefits the right to continue the same coverage at their own expense for 18 months. While you were employed, you may not have paid close attention to the full cost of your health coverage. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, workers on average paid roughly a fourth of the premiums of their employer coverage, so your $400 premium may jump to $1,600 under COBRA.
In many cases, private insurance is a cheaper alternative and an option worth exploring. That said, with layoffs coming, take advantage of your employer coverage while you can. It's important to see your doctor, dentist and optometrist just in case you fall into an insurance gap between jobs.
4. Move personal materials off of your work computer
Your last day at work will be the last time you can access your work computer. Any personal materials that only exist on your work computer should be secured. This can be done ahead of time without sounding any alarm bells.
5. Take stock of quantifiable accomplishments from your job
Before you leave your job behind, you should make a list of your quantifiable accomplishments. Later, when you no longer have access to the office computers, you won't be able to pull your metrics from your work tools, so you must act now. For example, if you're in sales, make sure to jot down relevant stats from your CRM database. As a bonus, jotting them down while they're fresh in your head will help you craft bullet-points for your resume.
6. Tap into your network
With layoffs coming, now is a great time to begin networking with people inside and outside your organization. Just make sure you touch base with folks in the right spirit.
First and foremost, "stay positive," Schuchman says, "and be as specific as possible about what you'd like to do next." The more targeted you are in your communications, the more likely a bell will go off for one of your contacts.
Schuchman says it's entirely reasonable to be direct when you tell your contacts you're looking for work. That said, the relationship should be reciprocal. "As usual, it's better to give than to receive," she says.
7. Revisit your resume and update it
Your resume is your business card. If you're on the verge of starting a job search, you need to update your resume to reflect your latest and greatest accomplishments.
You may want to use the opportunity to do a resume revamp. The LiveCareer Resume Builder offers dozens of templates designed to grab an employer's attention. There are even free resume examples that can help you tailor your application materials for a desired industry.