During uncertain times and within a turbulent job market, it is prudent to have a plan for dealing with a potential (and quick) unexpected job loss. Being unprepared could leave you in a situation where it could take several months to find a new opportunity. You may find yourself in a job market saturated with qualified candidates all chasing down the same opportunities. In difficult financial markets, technology companies with similar markets and products may begin rounds of layoffs and restructuring to stay financially solvent and profitable.
Being proactive in preparing for a potential job loss will only increase your opportunity to land a new opportunity and decrease any negative financial impacts on your potential earnings and savings.
This article will outline some suggestions for preparing for an unexpected job loss and standing out among the crowd.
One of the critical pieces of advice my financial advisor has imparted to me is that someone should have 3 - 6 months of their salary saved in case of unexpected job loss. This should be cash on hand rather than a 401k or other assets with a penalty to withdraw. Consider trimming down expenses like streaming services (Netflix, HBO, Disney+) and refrain from dining out as much. Having a nest egg will allow you the security of being able to pay bills while looking for your next opportunity.
Rushing to accept a job offer to pay the bills could set you up for failure in the long run. Depending on your background, skillset, the type of role, and the comp you are looking for against the job market, it could take a few months to land your new role. If you rush to accept a new role, only to find out it doesn't align with your professional goals, you may need to make the decision to leave after only a few months. A sequence of short employment stints could be a red flag for some recruiters and hiring managers.
If you believe you may be in danger of being laid off, be proactive in finding out about any severance packages that are being offered. Depending on the company, their policies, and your length of service, you may be provided additional compensation at your point of departure. Understand any retirement or pension rollovers that would need to occur. If you need medical insurance, or other types of insurance, begin to look for options that could cover you during the employment gap. The more you proactively prepare and understand can help you during this challenging time.
Network, Network, Network
You should not wait to build a professional network. Building and nurturing your network should occur in good times and bad. Maintaining positive and long-term relationships with current and previous co-workers, mentors, and professional contacts will benefit you when you are looking for a new opportunity.
Use personal branding techniques to show people who you are and what you do and communicate your values. Small things like checking in through written notes on LinkedIn, commenting on social media posts, scheduling coffee chats, or even virtual meetings can go a long way to building relationships. Using influencing skills such as likeability will make you stand out from people within your network.
But how do you utilize this network when you feel your job might be in jeopardy?
Have a clear vision of your ideal company and role. You should be able to articulate the types of companies and jobs you are looking for. This will help target your search and speed up your search within your network. Create a Job Search Personal Marketing Plan.
Look within your network for people who may be able to assist with introductions or referrals that match your targeted search.
Ask for assistance. Schedule a time to meet virtually or in person to discuss your situation and what you are looking for in a new opportunity. They may be able to help you directly or know someone else in their network to that you should speak. Because you have an existing relationship, it should not be awkward to reach out and request help.
Be sure to thank people for their help. Offer assistance for anything you can do for them in return. Keep in touch with people who have helped you in the past. People may feel used if you reach out "out of the blue" to ask for assistance and never hear from them again. You may not have such solid support in them in the future, should you need it.
Stay Engaged and Keep Learning
Along with maintaining an active network, stay engaged and look for opportunities to learn and showcase new skills. Start a blog or post content on social networks like LinkedIn. Establish yourself as a subject matter expert within the field of project management. Read books and blog posts and listen to podcasts. If you establish yourself as an expert, you may be asked to be interviewed in an article or podcast, heightening your professional profile. Renew your certifications, such as your PMP, and look for other certifications that will add value to stand out in a crowd. Review job postings and ask people in your network which certifications would be beneficial to obtain. If you have the financial ability, obtain additional certifications to add some breadth to your professional experience and profile. When you apply for jobs, some companies use ATS systems to pick up keywords based on the job posting. If your profile has the certification or experience keywords, you have a better chance of being highlighted for review. When interviewing for new roles, emphasize that you obtained the certifications and how you applied that knowledge to the real-world experience.