Unfortunately we live in a time where layoffs are a fact of life.  If it hasn't happened to you, it has most likely happened to someone you know. Being prepared can relieve some of those worrisome “what -ifs”.  So here are a few things you can do now to be prepared — just in case:

  • Get a budget.  If you don't do this already, you need to just for good all around financial health.  No successful business runs without a budget, and you shouldn't either.  Find out how much money you spend each month and how much you bring home.  Don't wait until it's too late to see that you've been spending $75/month on pizza delivery.  Do it now, and evaluate your spending.  Are you making wise decisions, or do you have financial blinders on?
  • Have 3-6 months income in a quickly accessible savings account.  This isn't really news.  All of the financial talking heads tell you this, but have you ever taken them seriously? It may be hard for you to fathom having this much money just sitting there doing nothing.  It was for us. For a long time we didn't even have a budget!   But should you lose your job, you will need some money to hold you over until you can get a steady stream of income again.
  • Play "laid off."  Go home from work one day and imagine that you would not be returning.  After the initial panic, think logically.  What are the loose ends that you wish you could have tied up?  Were you procrastinating on a medical procedure that you now can't have since you don't have health insurance?  Had you been counting on your bonus to send you child to camp, but now you're not going to get it? Were you going to take advantage of your company's tuition reimbursement program but just hadn't taken the time to submit the paperwork yet?
  • Look for a job.  No, you don't have to actually apply, but see what's out there.  Take a quick look at the classifieds.  Are their available jobs in your field? Would you have to relocate?  Are your certifications up to date?  Pretend you are going to apply, and update your resume accordingly.  Are there any holes in your resume that you can tidy up now?  Do these jobs pay what you are used to getting paid, or would you have to take a pay cut? Think about these things while you still have a job.
  • Save e-mails, passwords and contact information that you may need but have stored only at work.  No, don't steal proprietary information, but save information such as the username and password to your 401K management site. Those are yours. Chances are you have it saved somewhere at work, using a work email, but if you no longer have access to your work email, it may be hard to retrieve that information. Keep emails and phone numbers of co-workers and others with whom you may interact in your industry.  Networking is a great way to find a job.  It's all about who you know.
  • Make a copy of your last performance review.   When it comes time to apply for new jobs, you will have the facts at hand.  It's far better to put on your resume "Lead a team of 10 individuals on project X that generated $100,000 revenue annually" than "Did a good job managing a team."
  • Take stock of what really matters in life.  Are you busting your behind at work for that next promotion, giving too much of your energy to your job, and coming home snapping at your kids because you are exhausted from your day?  And you are doing this for the almighty dollar and for a company that can lay you off at any time without any concern for what might happen to you or your family as a result? Assess where your priorities are.  Make wise choices.  Work hard at your job but even harder for your family.

This has been a guest post by Tamra from Fruitland, ID
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