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How to Be Prepared for a Layoff

By Ann Hackett
Posted Wednesday, February 23, 2005

If you are concerned that your company might be planning a layoff, your best course of action is to be prepared. Employees often see warning signs that their jobs may be at risk. Such signs could include poor company performance, earlier rounds of layoffs, conflicts with their manager, increased manager intervention and involvement, and poor performance reviews. Employees see the signs, but aren’t as proactive as they should be in looking out for their future. Here are steps you can take to be prepared for a layoff.

Update your resume. Start complying a list of your accomplishments in your present job. In particular, focus on quantifiable achievements. Bring home a copy of the position description your human resources department has developed for your job. Use this position description to check the content of your resume. If you need help, get it from the Internet, resume writing books, or a professional resume writer.

Create a portfolio. Make copies of positive letters you have received from customers and letters of recognition you have received from your employer. If you have a job where you create materials that are not company confidential such as brochures or operating manuals, make copies of your work to show to potential employers during future job interviews.

Develop your list of references. Contact the people you would like to use as references to ask their permission to be used as a reference. Obtain their current contact information and type up your reference list.

Check job postings. See what the market need is for someone with your background and experience. Consider applying for jobs now if the market is weak and you feel the probability of being laid off in the near future is high. Also use job postings as a means of checking the content of your resume to see if you omitted key points or focused on items that aren’t being emphasized by employers.

Sign up for a personal e-mail account. Include this personal e-mail address on your resume rather than your business e-mail address. If you lose your job, your business e-mail account will no longer be valid. If you decide to pursue a new job while still employed, use your personal e-mail account to transmit your resume to employers.

Research outplacement services. Outplacement services are career transition services that employers pay for to help you with your job search. To be prepared in case of a layoff, research the services provided by various outplacement firms to determine what would be of most value to you. Would you want an outplacement firm that would write your resume and cover letter for you? Do you value one-on-one time with a career transition consultant? Or are you interested in attending group workshops to learn how to prepare your own marketing materials? If you are laid off, be prepared to negotiate for the outplacement services that you feel will benefit you. The best time to negotiate is when you have the most leverage, prior to signing your separation letter.

Ask for a letter of recommendation. If you are laid off, ask for a letter of recommendation from your former employer. Reach agreement with your employer on this request prior to signing your separation letter.

Negotiate your severance package. If you are downsized, negotiate the terms of the severance package you are offered. Again, the best time to negotiate is when you have the most leverage, prior to signing your separation letter.

By following these tips, you can prepare yourself to recover as quickly as possible should you be laid off.

Copyright 2004 Quest Career Services, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

About the Author
Ann Hackett is the President of Quest Career Services, LLC ( Quest Career Services provides outplacement services to clients nationwide, specializing in offering affordable one-on-one outplacement services. To receive via e-mail a brochure summarizing the outplacement packages Quest Career Services provides, send an e-mail to


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