Layoffs: Be prepared, not scared

You’ve seen the signs:  company messages about cost cutting, fewer customers, worried looks around the office– layoffs are lurking.

Waiting to see if you will lose your job can be frustrating and stressful.  However, you can avoid feeling powerless by doing your best at work while building contingency plans from home.

 These 8 steps will help you prepare.

1. Create a disaster plan.

Imagine the worst that can happen and create a plan to make the situation better.   Answer questions like:

  • How much money do you have today?
  • What’s the least amount of money you can spend monthly?
  • What resources are available to you (e.g., friends, family, government programs) ?
  • What could each resource provide?
  • What legal services/jobs could you perform for emergency cash (e.g., sweeping/cleaning for small businesses, typing, and fast food jobs)?

If your worst fears include serious poverty, include contact information for social services in your city (e.g., food banks, housing authority, churches, and hospitals).

2.  Create a best case scenario plan.

What’s the best thing that can happen?  Think big. Draw a detailed picture. Your vision may include a new job with higher pay, new skills/degrees/certifications, and/or an entirely new career.

  • How will you get there?
  • Who can help you at each step?
  • How much time will you need?
  • What sources of funding are available?  Be positive; use the internet as a research tool; and know that help is available for anything you want to achieve.

3. Identify and cut unnecessary expenses.
Identify expenses you can cut temporarily (e.g., cable, cell phone, new clothes, eating out, internet).  Find  free or low cost replacements. Examples include: carrying a prepaid cell phone for emergencies; borrowing DVDs, books, and free internet access from your local library, or co-hosting pot luck dinners at the home of a friend who has cable service or a fresh deck of cards.

4.  Do a skills inventory to generate ideas for a small business.
Create a chart with categories including:

  • skills and abilities;
  • people who might need them;
  • ways to reach potential customers; and
  • income potential for each skill.

Be sure to consider your basic abilities such as walking and reading.  For example, being able to walk means you can deliver food, do errands for others, walk dogs, or help with yard work. Once you’ve completed you inventory, decide what services you would like to offer. You can advertise your services free on the Internet on websites like and

5. Update your resume

Your resume should be ready to e-mail at a moment’s notice.  Because most resumes are reviewed electronically, be sure it includes key words related to your profession and use a font like Arial that is easy for a computer to read.  For more resume tips Google “resume tips” and/or borrow a resume book from library.

6.  Register with temporary employment agencies

Inquire about jobs and pay available for people with your skills. If you have vacation time or available evening hours, ask for a few assignments.  If  layoffs do occur, you will have a head start on others being laid off.  If they don’t occur, you’ll have made extra money to pay bills or make investments.

7.  Network with friends, family, and professional organizations.

Look for and attend local networking events. Ask everyone in your network about job openings in your field.

For best results, prepare:

  • a 2 minute verbal description of your current job and career interests,
  • an updated resume and
  • information about job opportunities at your company.  Although your company may be reducing staff in one area, it may be hiring in another.  Be sure to research potential opportunities at your company to ensure you have information to share with other networkers. 

8.  Consider attending school to update your skills or begin a new career.
Layoffs provide a great opportunity to increase your market value by gaining new skills.  You can also use the time to explore a new career.


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