5 Steps to Prepare for a Layoff

I’ve provided outplacement services to several thousand people throughout my career, and the one thing they all have in common is this:  no one was prepared for losing their job. Despite company communication about pending “reductions in force,” sudden economic downturns, and unforeseen geopolitical conflicts, no one ever believes job loss will happen to them. 

There’s a lot of common-sense advice for job loss. Six months of savings to cover loss of income will help with financial anxiety. Consult a financial planner and create a budget plan for employment interruption. Cut unnecessary expenses.

Action Items Following Job Loss

I’d like to share advice with you that may not be on your radar. Based on feedback from my clients, I offer five action items to begin now to ensure that you will thrive following a job loss.

  1. Consider your job “temporary.”   Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re bulletproof. Ensure that you’re aligned with the company’s strategic directions. Upskill and devote yourself to continuing development. Get a mentor. Network within your company. Ensure that your brand is visible, and you are seen as a valued contributor.
  2. Prepare to surrender your phone, laptop, and company property upon demand. Remove personal files, contacts, and any resources that you would need should you suddenly have to begin job search. Invest in updated home technology so you’ll have the tools you need to be immediately productive.
  3. Learn how to use LinkedIn to manage your career. Now is the time to build and strengthen your network (aim for 250+), perfect your profile, and ensure that your home email is attached to your account.
  4. Update your resume. Collect annual performance reviews, copies of training certificates, awards, and other evidence of your success. Review your calendar to prompt your memory for projects, task forces and other meetings that confirm accomplishments.
  5. Prepare to negotiate your severance package. Notification of your job loss is always a surprise meeting, usually conducted by your manager with an HR professional in attendance. Review the company’s severance package now and consider what you would need to get back into the job market and employed again. You’ll be given a severance document to sign in order to receive benefits, and you’ll be given a period of time to review it with an attorney.  Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to negotiate better terms. This is especially important if you have a non-compete stipulation.


Finally, you may not be aware that many companies now offer a stipend for training or career coaching. Advocate for your success by requesting outplacement services, a program providing you with career coaching, resume and online profile development and personalized job search strategy. Outplacement services provide you with an immediate competitive advantage, and greatly accelerates your speed to market and eventual landing.      

No one wants to envision their life turned upside down with job loss but completing these steps will provide you with the peace of mind that you’re prepared for the constant disruptions of today’s business world.