Too Close for Comfort

will-s-0209 Although recent labor reports indicate that overall job losses have slowed, what is your best course of action if your office is still in layoff mode and your own employment status might suddenly be in jeopardy? Welcome to the new world of employment uncertainty.

Your immediate reaction and proper preparation could significantly shorten your length of unemployment if bad news does arrive. Many people go through a short period of relief after learning that they have managed to hang onto their own job when those around them have been let go. But eventually, those feelings can morph into sadness, anxiety or even guilt. Some co-workers in your office might opt to explore other jobs in order preempt the next round of pink slips. What should you do?

Be Proactive

Once you come to terms with the emotional and practical matters around you, the next key focus is to remain positive and not allow your current work habits to slip. Rather than looking at a potential job loss as a horrible thing, it might be better to consider the positive implications of this situation. Take the time to make some changes. You might switch careers or industries, learn some new skills and improve upon the ones you already have, or perhaps consider relocating. Look forward to your next opportunity. You never know what doors this turn of events may open for you.

Here are steps you can take to help keep a layoff from hitting you too hard:

• Prepare for a layoff by having your resume ready: Add new skills as you master them; also include career related milestones and completed projects as they occur; you can always remove irrelevant information from your final version.

• Actively network while you’re still working; check in with members of your network with a quick phone call or email; take the opportunity to help others – they may someday return the favor.

• Your emotional well-being will help you withstand the rigors of a difficult job search; keep up with interests outside of work, for example a daily workout, a hobby, or even a weekly manicure.

• If you’ve been thinking of a career change, you’re better off pursuing it while you’re still employed; when you lose your job, your priority may be finding a new one as quickly as possible.

• Job loss usually means that your health coverage will also end unless you are able to negotiate extended coverage. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) was created to help those who are in this situation. This law allows those separated from their jobs to purchase health insurance at a group rate for a limited time. Talk with your HR to explore what your benefit options are if you are suddenly laid off. This includes 401k accounts, vacation time remaining and potential bonuses earned.

No matter how the mood of the office environment can be during troubled times, it’s vital for you to remain positive and maintain your normal state of professionalism. Don’t forget that your HR officials could be burdened with the arduous tasks of making additional cuts and could be watching your every move. Keep your opinions to yourself and do your best to avoid office gossip.

Good luck with your career choices during the tough times and always remember to keep your head in the game!

Wil Smith is a Business Consultant for Workforce Solutions in the Houston metropolitan area. Wil has collected over 20 years of expertise in the areas of Corporate Training & Development, Recruitment and Operational Management; with the majority of that time working with a Fortune 500 Corporation. He has also worked in the Sports / News industry as a reporter and broadcaster.


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