Layoffs can happen to the most hard-working, competent individuals. The world economy still sails in troubled waters, and there is simply no way any one person can stifle the ups-and-downs of the market’s turbulent seas. The best you can do is be the best employee that you can be, and when the scow runs afoul of any iceberg, be prepared.
Signs of an impending layoff:
- In the past few weeks or months there has been no work to do; no emails in your inbox, and no responses to those emails you’ve sent.
- Not only have your hours been cut, but you’re asked to pay a larger share of your company-sponsored health plan premiums.
- The budget for that professional development/training course you were promised at the beginning of your employment? It’s been cut, or just plain eliminated.
- There’s no talk of any next step with you in mind at your company.
- Your mid- and year-end performance reviews are a farce: your boss is neither paying you attention or offering you feedback; clearly he/she wants to get this meeting with you over as quickly as possible.
- You’re on Facebook, YouTube or Twitter three hours a stretch…and no one cares.
Ways to get ahead of the game:
- Prepare for departure. Get your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile together. Having your career documents ready-to-go will boost your confidence and minimize your concern about a potential layoff. In fact, you may be seen as a more relaxed and confident employee and therefore, will be among the last to be let go… if multiple layoffs are in the cards for your company’s future.
- Solidify your footing before it’s too late. Arrange confidential meetings with other department heads at your company to discuss opportunities there; ideally you can come to the table with a sales pitch that involves how you can help them to get more done for less (assuming that the slowdown is organization-wide). In other words, as the waters start to rise over your head, try to wade over to higher ground.
- Remain professional. If you’ve decided to go the interviewing-for-new-job route, speak positively of your accomplishments and time at your latest company. If you played an active part in attempting to pause the hemorrhaging of jobs—even though you were unsuccessful—share that strategy with your potential new employers. This will prove that you’re not the type to jump ship, become bitter, etc., when the going gets rough.
Note: there is no reason for you to bring up any layoff history during an interview. Try to re-shape questions of “Why did you leave there?” into “Why are you interested in working here?”