Are you prepared for the unexpected?

Nervous by Sira AnamwongLayoffs. If you received your walking papers, would you be prepared? We hear about people receiving pink slips all of the time, and we hope that it never happens to us, but we usually don’t think about it anymore. Most of us don’t have a plan in place.

Throughout the years, I have worked with many clients who were caught off guard. Comments such as, “Oh, I wish I would have known I should be doing these things …” have often been stated. Here is one client’s story:

A client (I will call Susan) went to work one day, and by the end of the day was told that due financial constraints she was laid off and this would be her last day. Susan, a public relations professional, had worked on several projects, but because she was so busy, never took the time to make copies of her work. She had also received several congratulatory emails during her tenure, but had never made copies of these emails. (Copies of  her projects and emails would have served as documentation of her talents and contributions to her company — a great addition to her portfolio.)

Whether you are caught off guard or have an idea your job might be ending, here are some suggestions to help you be prepared:

1.  Update your resume at least once a year, but preferably twice a year. Include items that will set you apart. For example, did you save money, streamline procedures, solve a problem? Also, ask yourself, “What do I feel most proud about accomplishing these past 6 months?”

2.  Did you receive any thank you or congratulatory emails? Forward them to your home email address.

3.  Have you saved copies of your performance reviews? If not, ask your human resource department for copies. Excerpts of positive comments can be used in cover letters or on a resume and are a great way to set yourself apart. Remember, don’t file them at work; bring them home.

4.  Are you proud of something you created? If so, and if company policies allow it, make a copy and include it in your own portfolio.

5.  Did you attend any seminars or trainings? Don’t file those certificates at work, bring them home.

6.  Do you have a list of customers/clients? If so, keep a copy of this contact list. These individuals could serve as great resources for you, if you find yourself unemployed.

7.  Network Inward. Maintain your current network of connections. Send an occasional email, forward an interesting article to them, go out for coffee or lunch. Then, if something happens, you will have an immediate network to draw upon and will not have to re-establish a relationship.

8.  Network Outward. Always work on building new connections. Get to know the “connectors” who are the people who know everyone. Participate in local clubs/organizations, and volunteer in your community.

9.  Build your LinkedIn Presence. Social media is also another great way to network outward. On LinkedIn, update your profile and make sure the content matches your resume — you don’t want any discrepancies. Join LinkedIn groups, participate in discussions, and work on building your connections. Finally, ask for recommendations on LinkedIn. Excerpts from these recommendations can be strategically placed in your cover letter or resume.

10.  Have you thought of creating a second revenue stream? For example, one of my clients, who was an auto technician, started to take on some repair jobs (which he did in his garage) for friends and neighbors. Another client, who had a very part-time job in direct sales (selling jewelry), decided to ramp up that business when she learned her company may be having layoffs. Having a second source of income like these individuals can be very helpful if you become unemployed.

11.  Build Your Savings. I am not a financial expert, but this is common sense. Google this topic and you will find a plethora of articles and tips written by financial experts who provide many different suggestions on ways to increase the emergency fund.

12.  If you have any inclination that your job may be ending soon, don’t just sit around and wait; follow your gut and start taking action. Begin looking at job openings within your line of work, and if there is something that interests you, apply for it. By doing so, you will (1) learn how many openings are available in your field; (2) find out how marketable you are; and (3) may possibly have an opportunity to practice your interview skills and learn more about a potential job that would be a great fit.

If you don’t have a plan in place, it’s time to start one. Don’t be caught off guard like some of my clients were. Be proactive, not reactive.

About the author:  As a career strategist and certified interview coach, Connie Hauer has 10+ years of experience delivering effective coaching programs that help clients reach their goals. 

Image by Sira Anamwong@freedigitalphotos.net