How to prepare for job loss?
December 1, 2006 7:47 PM   Subscribe

What to do in preparation for a job loss?

I'm quite certain I won't have a job in January. They're looking at cutbacks overall and I know I can be replaced with someone cheaper. Through the grapevine I've heard they're interviewing people. I'm not too upset, I'm ready to move on. I'm also not too concerned about finding a new position. I figured this was coming and I'll be good for 6 months even without employment insurance. What to do to prepare? I've copied my Outlook contacts and emailed them home, I've taken home all copies of company guidelines (to see severance policies). Next I'm off to the doctor to get several months worth of my prescription. Anything else you guys can think of? What would you do if you knew you're job was on the chopping block and you weren't going to fight to keep it?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (19 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Put yourself in the strongest possible legal position to get a decent severance package. Don't sign anything without reviewing it first.
posted by jason's_planet at 7:53 PM on December 1, 2006

I'd be cancelling/pausing all unnecessary services. Netflix, etc.
posted by drstein at 7:58 PM on December 1, 2006

posted by allelopath at 8:00 PM on December 1, 2006

Don't spend anymore unnecessary money starting three months ago for one.

I have a minimum of three months salary in savings, and I could survive six months if necessary.

You sound like you are thinking quite far ahead already. Just keep searching the net for what to do as well.

Start scoping out other jobs now. Schedule your time to do that. Start a database of those possible jobs and go ahead and start sending out resumes. Take interviews if offered.

Don't take it personal (well, unless of course it IS personal) and stay detached and looking forward.
posted by smallerdemon at 8:02 PM on December 1, 2006

I've copied my Outlook contacts and emailed them home

Start renewing/improving/etc. your relationship with your most valuable contacts before you're laid off. Especially if your current job puts you in a position to be especially useful to them.

Next I'm off to the doctor to get several months worth of my prescription

Read over all those brochures about the benefits plans. Anything else you need to stock up on, like you're doing with the prescriptions? (e.g. Need new glasses?)

Do you have any financial-type applications in your near future (e.g. mortgage renewal) or anything else where just the fact that you're employed will be a benefit? Get those done now.
posted by winston at 8:05 PM on December 1, 2006

If you need to have any debt, now's the time. Last time I knew I was being laid off, I wrapped up an in-progress mortgage refinance while I still could. Get your medical /dental care, as mentioned.

It sounds like you're really in good shape, but getting laid off still sucks. Talk to anybody at the company who has any mentoring relationship to you, and get them lined up for references, either explicitly, which is best, or just sounding them out. Be really professional about the layoff. Push for the best severance you can get, but be calm about it. Stay in touch with those people during your upcoming job hunt. You may need some moral support.

Prior to our layoff, my boss wrote me a really nice letter of recommendation. It was incredibly good of her, and made a crappy situation better.
posted by theora55 at 8:25 PM on December 1, 2006

do not burn any bridges.
posted by brandz at 8:41 PM on December 1, 2006

Start interviewing now. If you are certain that your job is ending, start looking. Regardless of your skills it is much easier to get hired when you are currently employed. Once you are unemployed your going to score lower when being evaluated against other canidates who have jobs. This is because employeers think, "someone got rid of this person, what's wrong with them."
posted by humanfont at 8:42 PM on December 1, 2006

In addition to the many good ideas above, get approved for a line of credit or increase the borrowing limit on the one you have now. Negotiate the best possible interest rate. Do whatever you can to avoid ever using it. However, it's better to put yourself in a good position right away.
posted by acoutu at 9:13 PM on December 1, 2006

humanfont is right. you will not even get interviews from some companies if you are not currently employed, regardless of qualifications.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 10:47 PM on December 1, 2006

Seconding don't the burn any bridges advise above; I've recently had to fire someone and even though his entire team knew he wasn't up to the job, and even he admitted he was in over his head, he's spoken individually to everyone that reports to him, claiming that I'd always had it in for him, that it was personal, rant, rant, rant.

I don't view things in black and white, will still give him a strong reference as he does has his strong points, but this does grate on me. Another manager might not be so good natured about it and retaliate given the chance.

I manage people for success and inherited this guy so I didn't put him in over his head. Also, I've fired lots of people in my career so I'm sorta used to this crap...
posted by Mutant at 12:25 AM on December 2, 2006

Get resume up to date, get it posted to the appropriate-for-your-industry job boards *now*, tell everyone that you know and trust in your network of business contacts that you're looking, *now*, and try to get out and into another job before this one is gone.
posted by enrevanche at 5:25 AM on December 2, 2006

I was in the same situation as you, about two months ago - I was told that due to a lack of work, my days at my job were numbered. I immediately started looking for another job, started taking home any personal items I had at my desk, made sure I would have no problems getting on my husband's health insurance, started cutting out unnecessary expenses.

Be aware that when the axe drops, it may drop very quickly. I was called into the HR woman's office one day and was told (at about 2pm) that they were going to have my last day be that day. I had three hours to finish up all my outstanding work, get all my personal items together, say good bye to people. It kind of sucked.
posted by Lucinda at 5:51 AM on December 2, 2006

If you're going to need to train your replacement, start working on any documentation you'll need for the training now (e.g., technical specs for the software you wrote), that way you can just hand it to them and say "read this". This doesn't really help *you*, but the people who have to follow in your footsteps will think more highly of you when you are gone.
posted by matildaben at 8:45 AM on December 2, 2006

  • Email yourself the contact information for HR, Payroll, and other such entities.
  • Investigate COBRA and 401k rollover policies. Print out hard copies and bring them home.
  • Figure out what to do with stock and/or stock options, if any. Exercise any options worth exercising.
  • Does your company give out free or deeply discounted stuff to employees? If so, max out these benefits (if it's stuff you can use).
  • Copy the bookmarks from your browser and send them home.
  • Print your performance evaluations and send them home.
  • Try to avoid taking vacation time. You should be paid out for unused days.
  • Take all your sick leave/floating holidays/any other time that is not paid out at termination.
  • If you can get away with this, come in late, leave early, and take a long lunch.
  • Job hunt, but the holiday season is notoriously slow for office worker hiring. Might as well enjoy the holidays as cheaply as possible and while using as little vacation time as possible.

posted by crazycanuck at 9:48 AM on December 2, 2006

As a victim of two layoffs, I got to thinking about what I should have done, and wrote this blog post about it: Be Prepared.
posted by LeisureGuy at 12:30 PM on December 2, 2006

Happened to me earlier this year. I did most of the things above. I also sent home home documents that could be used as writing samples, and blank templates for a lot of the reporting that I did, which I am now using in my new job.

Oh, and Lucinda gives good advice about the axe dropping. After laying off 9 people in my 13 person department in February, they negotiated an end date of June 30th for myself and two other coworkers. Then they ended up canning me at the end of May. In the long run, it didn't make much difference, but it was a nasty shock.
posted by kimdog at 5:41 PM on December 2, 2006

A few months ago, I converted from salaried at a big org to a contractor, so I have some advice that might help.

Buy any cars/houses you need to now.

Sign up for short term health insurance *before* you go to get all your final work done on the employers insurance (you will be able to fill out the application with fewer bad marks if you haven't recently found out about a pile of conditions you have). Note if you find out conditions before you're approved on many of these systems, you will have to notify them (thankfully I didn't have any problems).

If COBRA is cheaper than short term would be, use that (it's usually not).

Roll Over your 401k. Don't do what I did and get suckered into a holding period on your rollover (a period on your IRA where if you move it within Y years, you surrender X percentage of its value). I know AXA pulls these shenanigans, so avoid them at least.

Don't wait to be laid off. Start a new job asap, and make work pay a severance package for:

Non-Compete Agreements (Customer based only)
Any days they'd like you to work beyond 2 weeks notice*
"Quick phone calls" to show your replacements how to do their job.


*Make them pay this and your vacation before you work the days past 2 weeks. If they end up not needing the other days, that's not your problem, you reserved them for them. If they act like you're being an ass about this, just don't offer to work a day past 2 weeks.
posted by gte910h at 7:55 AM on December 3, 2006

This may be of limited utility to you right now, but consider it advice for when you are employed again.

I cannot overstate the importance of professional networking. With rare exceptions (one inconsequential, the other more significant), every worthwhile job I have held in the past 10 years has resulted from my professional network.

That is, at the inflection points where my career either needed a boost or I desperately needed a job (post-layoff), connections from the first company I worked at from 1996-1998 have been the fundamental mover in those changes.

People who are smart and motivated do well, and their careers grow as a result. It is impossible to predict where someone will wind up, but the one thing that's certain is that if you make a real effort to stay interested in their lives and their career, they'll think of you well, and there will almost certainly come a time when what they think of you can make or break a big chance for you.

Now, there's networking to notch your belt, and there's what I call "real" networking: don't confuse the two. Don't be that obnoxious person who collects acquaintances and then comes off as a total stranger who's asking for a favor because they're a friend of some friend of yours. More than one recommendation for which I was asked has been killed because I didn't know the requestor that well, and they were additionally an obnoxious gladhanding ass about it.

Real networking is when you touch base with people more often than once a year or when you need them: you write to them to say "Hey, I was thinking of you the other day, what have you been up to?" You make an effort to really know them beyond occasional emails: you go out to lunch every so often and talk about real life, not just work. You may not be close friends, but you're familiar to them as a real person who actually gives a shit about how they're doing. You'll know you're doing it right when they start sending you the emails they send out to their friends when they land a new job, or when they cc: you on stuff like "ZOMG WE JUST HAD A KID".

Most importantly, real networking rests on the fact that if someone in that network asks you for a favor, you do your level best to make it happen, and, if you can't, you tell them that you did your best, or you just don't have the right contacts, but that you really tried and didn't just blow them off. Sooner or later, you'll be able to deliver on a favor, and that builds credibility in your entire network: you become that one guy who really helped Jan out when she needed to hire someone, or the guy to call when you can't figure out X.

As a corollary, when someone in your network does you a favor, for God's sake execute. For example, if they recommend you for a job, blow the doors off: how well you reward investment is what's at issue here. If someone recommends you to their CEO friend, you want them to be talking 6 months down the road with the CEO friend saying "that guy you sent me was the best hire we've ever made".

If it seem like I'm going on and on and on, it's because this kind of networking is incredibly important in the "real world".

For example, when I'm hiring, it has a direct impact on my likelihood of hiring someone: someone who comes recommended from my network will always automatically get a more favorable look than another "just a resume" candidate. And there are people in my network whose judgement I trust so implicitly that I'd hire, sight unseen, a candidate for whom they've vouched.

In the current employment environment, I guarantee that most hiring managers are taking the approach I am: when you get 500 resumes for one slot, you're going to very rapidly try to winnow it down to 10 resumes or less right off the bat. And, at least for me, almost every other consideration (school, past employers, etcetera) is secondary to "can I call someone I trust and get an unvarnished opinion on this person?"

Network. It will make a difference in your career.
posted by scrump at 12:51 PM on December 3, 2006 [1 favorite]

« Older Something comfy to wear, in the hope that I may be...   |   Interior Finishes Comparison Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.