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The labor market is strong, with 10 million jobs currently open — up 60% from pre-pandemic levels, according to ZipRecruiter. But the looming fear of a recession and layoffs at high-profile companies like Twitter and Amazon may have left you wondering, “Am I next?”
It’s impossible to know what the future holds, but experts predict there will, indeed, be more layoffs in 2023. Being prepared will help you deal with the blow to your bank account (and self-esteem). Here’s how to weather the storm.
Don’t take it personally
Layoffs are usually a cost-cutting measure and have little to do with an employee’s performance. Still, it can bring up feelings of insecurity, anger and stress.
Though it’s hard, try to stay clear-headed as you decide what to do next.
“Just keep a positive mindset and don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed with emotion,” says career development coach Alicia Perkins.
Maintain a professional attitude, continue following workplace policies, wrap up any remaining tasks, and be kind. Otherwise, you might risk burning a bridge.
Gather your documents
Most organizations have specific processes for handling layoffs, says Katie Birkelo, a senior vice president for business professionals at human resources consulting firm Randstad. This typically includes details about severance pay, handling 401(k)s, how long health coverage will continue, what happens to unused paid time off, when you’ll receive your last paycheck, and when your last day will be.
If you have any personal files on your work computer or contacts that you want to save, be sure to gather those details and documents, Birkelo adds. Before your last day, Perkins suggests asking for a recommendation, which could help you in your next role.
Take time to reassess — if you can
Some people may need to re-enter the workforce immediately, because of financial constraints. But, if you don’t, take some time for yourself to reflect on your next professional move, says Leslie Tarnacki, chief human resource officer at WorkForce Software.
“Being laid off can actually provide an opportunity for people to take a step back, examine their current career path, and see if they want to continue in the same direction or make a change,” she says.
Perkins, for her part, suggests making a list of what you liked and disliked about previous jobs, and what you want for the future. “This is the time to really set those non-negotiables for the next move,” she says.
Kick off your job search
Get organized before you start looking for a new job — update your resume and LinkedIn profile and compile a list of references ASAP.
Get in touch with alumni organizations and join your industry’s professional association, both of which can open up “a great underground network for open positions that aren't published anywhere,” according to Birkelo.
Research companies that align with your must-haves, and use job search websites to browse openings. “Apply, apply, apply, and don’t be bummed about it taking time,” Tarnacki says. “There are always opportunities, so stick with the process.”
Be open about your layoff
Layoffs happen, so there’s no reason to be self-conscious or try to hide it from prospective employers.
“You’d be surprised that if you’re open about sharing your experiences, it could potentially help you,” Perkins says.
Transparency makes a positive impression, and hiring managers will probably be understanding and sympathetic. Just be sure to discuss the situation positively.
“Speak to all the value you will add to the position or company and highlight the success and outcomes you had in your previous role,” Tarnacki says.
Talk to your boss if you're worried a layoff is coming
Anytime you’re worried about the security of your job, talk to your manager about it. You might not get a concrete answer, but the conversation could put your mind at ease.
This is a good time to start documenting positive contributions and successes you’ve had at work, according to Birkelo. These details will come in handy if you do get laid off, and will take some of the burden off of writing a new resume and preparing for interviews if you do need to look for a new position.
Remember to always keep your options open and recognize opportunities that pop up, Perkins advises.
“I don’t think anybody should ever get so comfortable that they feel that their job is 100% secure,” she says. “I’m very big on the idea that the best time to look for a job is when you have a job.”
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