This past week at work, a lot of people were laid off and lost their job. I wasn’t among them in this round of layoffs. But I once was, and there is the very real possibility I could still be laid off in the future. In this week’s podcast, I talk about the inevitability of job loss, how we can prepare for it, and how we can handle it once we find ourselves out of work.
Right now because of COVID-19 and government shutdowns, a large number of people find themselves without work. According to government data, during the peak of the crisis so far, roughly 15% of the workforce lost their job. As of today, that number is roughly 8%. But thanks to recent spikes in COVID-19 cases country wide, there is a very real possibility this number might increase.
When my wife and I first got married, I found myself laid off from work 6 months into our marriage. That’s not exactly a knight in shining armor type moment. Nobody wants to start off their marriage like that. Thankfully, I was not unemployed long, and within a couple of months being laid off, I was able to find a job with the same company that had let me go.
Naturally, knowing the state of the economy and knowing my employer has promised further job reductions, I’m feeling a little bit nervous about my sense of job security. The bank I work for has over 250,000 employees, and some analysts estimate my company will reduce its staffing levels by up to 50,000 individuals. Knowing there is a very real chance in which I might find myself unemployed in the coming months, I’ve been doing my best to prepare for this possibility.
In today’s podcast, I share my personal story about wrestling with job loss, and how I’ve managed to personally prepare for this possibility, and how you can handle it as well. Be sure to listen above in order to hear me fully talk about all the tips below.
1. Be Proactive
Jordan Harbinger says, “Dig the well before you get thirsty.” Live life on purpose. Be proactive. Don’t live a reactionary life and let life simply happen to you. Learn to swim so you can avoid drowning in case you get thrown out of a boat. Understand that life is full of surprises and things you didn’t plan on happening to you. It’s not possible to plan for anything and everything that could go wrong. But you can do things that will set you up for success in the long term, and things that are likely to happen to you at some point in life.
2. Acknowledge Job Loss Is Inevitable
A job loss is one of those things you can prepare for and should expect to happen. It’s not a matter of when you are going to lose your job, but when. When I was born in the early 80’s, my father was an electrician working in the steel mills around Chicago. Unemployment was rampant and had been for a long time. For several years before I was born, my father was regularly in and out of work. Inflation and unemployment were high in those days. At any given time, even in healthy economies, at least 4% of the workforce is unemployed. Currently it sits at 8%, and at the height of the current crisis, it was almost 15%. We can often get lulled into a false sense of complacency when it comes to job security. But we must realize, there’s never been such a thing, and there never will be. We live in a fickle and broken world. Supply and demand are regularly in flux, and no amount of unions or politicians can stop these forces of economic nature.
3. Save For A Rainy Day– Because It’s Going To Rain
Build up your savings. It can be tempting to spend every dollar you have coming in. But you should build up an emergency savings account for the eventuality that you will lose your job. Most financial professionals recommend having at least 3-6 months of expenses saved. Strive for this. You aren’t guaranteed a severance if you lose your job. Unemployment benefits can take weeks or months to kick in. You don’t want to lose your home just because you temporarily lost your income. As it is, most jobs you apply for will take a couple months to actually obtain from the moment you start applying to the day you actually show up for work. So, always be ready for interruptions in your income.
4. Always Be On The Hunt For Another Job
You should always be looking for the next job. The first day you should start looking for another job is the first day in any job you start. Always have a job search agent going. Find out which way the winds are blowing in the job market. Find out what job you want next, and the requisite skills for that job. And leverage that information to help use your current job as a stepping stone to the next.
5. Keep Track Of Your Professional Accomplishments
I keep a little spreadsheet going at work of any major tasks or projects I’ve accomplished. I use this, not only for the purpose of my end of year reviews, but also for developing my resume. This allows me to be precise about my accomplishments at work, and to have a written history of that which I can leverage for the future. This beats having a year end review or resume full of fluff, and will help you stand out above everyone else.
6. Keep Your Resume On Up To Date
While you may not know what future job you are going to apply for, it’s always good to have a generic resume that’s ready to go, because you never know when you are going to need it. When I was laid off previously, there was a job I applied for that was only open for 2 days before it was taken down. If I didn’t have a resume already prepared, I could have missed out on an opportunity to secure the job I eventually landed.
7. Customize Every Resume For Every Job
While it’s great to have a generic resume, every time you apply for a job, you need to customize that resume for the job you are applying for. Read the job description. And do a little research about the company you are applying at, and tweak your resume to match the job you want to get. Adjust key words. Mirror company buzzwords. When I was laid off, I spent 4 or more hours a day searching for jobs and tweaking my resume to reflect every job I applied for. You have the time, so use it wisely.
8. Track The Jobs You’ve Applied For
When you apply for a job, keep track on a spreadsheet what jobs you’ve applied for, and any individuals you might have spoken to. I recommend saving a PDF version of whatever job advertisement you saw and saving that for future reference in case you have an interview. You can use this to prepare for your interview, and better recall the specifics around the job.
9. Prepare Talking Points For Interviews
When interviewing for a job, always prepare ahead of time to the best of your ability for each interview. Prepare possible interview questions. Think those questions out, and prepare short stories and talking points that you can easily memorize and jot down in some notes that you bring to your interview. If possible, used websites like Glassdoor to research possible interview questions.
10. Stay Active And Take Care Of Yourself
Exercise. Shower. Pray. Eat well. “Look good, feel good, and you’ll be good,” as Deion Sanders once said. Take care of yourself so that you can fight against emotional downturns that may send you into fights with depression. You want to avoid appearing desperate during job interviews, as nobody wants to hire a desperate person anymore than anyone wants to date a desperate person. Keep yourself together, stay sharp, and people will want to hire you to be part of their company.