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by Lisa Rangel | April 29, 2020

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In today’s economic climate, due to the effects of COVID-19, even the most stable of positions could be at risk. U.S. jobless claims have already surpassed 30 million, and the U.S. jobless rate could reach 30 percent this year. Given numbers like these, it’s prudent for everyone to be prepared for a possible layoff. So here are seven actions to take to better prepare yourself if that unfortunate event does happen.

1. Shrink your budget—now.

Reduce all the expenses you can now to proactively to shrink your monthly budget—make it as small as you can. This way, you'll be ready to live on a tighter budget if a layoff were to come. Until then, keep your budget savings in a rainy day fund. 

2. Check your options for health care benefit extensions.

For some people, being able to extend their company's health care benefits after a layoff can prove to be more valuable than severance pay. So do the calculations ahead of time, comparing the costs associated with maintaining your benefits to health care options available on healthcare.gov.

3. Listen to the Pretend You're Fired Today podcast.

The PYFT podcast is 52 weeks of 10- to 15-minute episodes on steps to take to ensure you're well prepared for an unexpected layoff. Recent episodes include "Tangible Steps to Take When You Get the Vibe Your Boss Wants You OUT!" and "Eight Ways to Protect Yourself and Be Ready When You Sense Large-Scale Layoffs."

4. Update your resume and LinkedIn profile.

Update your resume and LinkedIn profile now. Use achievement-based language to strengthen each document so you're prepared to outshine competitors if you need to put the documents to use. Two good resources to help you begin to make your updates are the 10-Minute Resume Cheat Sheet and the 10-Minute LinkedIn Profile Cheat Sheet

5. Nurture and grow your virtual networks.

Sign up for your own personal Zoom account and an online scheduling tool (like TimeTrade, or Acuity) and schedule online networking opportunities while you're still employed. As many companies migrate to work-from-home arrangements, networking-from-home activities are now also the new rage. Use these tools to set up one-on-one chats, group social hours, professional association virtual meetups, and corporate and college alumni online get-togethers. In today’s climate, there's no easier way to build a network than taking advantage of the online conference call tools available to you. This way your network is primed if you need it. 

6. Look where hiring is happening.

In the end, yes, unfortunately, there will likely be more layoffs. But that doesn’t mean hiring isn't also happening. Hiring does happens in recessions, as we saw in 2001 and 2008. Explore openings for what you do or how your skills can be transferred to essential companies, companies needing temporary leaders and workers, forward-thinking companies that will build during the downturn, and companies hiring via LinkedIn and other online job boards. In addition, don't overlook downsizing companies. Downsizing companies often hire in small amounts at the same time they're shrinking their staffs. Don’t assume hiring is dead just because we're in a crisis.

7. Repurpose your skills if you're unable to work in your current industry.

Say, for example, you're an IT leader in retail. Could your skills be used in industries that are highly dependent on inventory management? Or would sports companies, unable to hold events during the sheltering-in-place era, be interested in merchandising IT expertise to expand their sports attire lines to keep fans connected to their brands? Proactively look at areas hiring, then evaluate how your IT skills could be leveraged in those industries. Of course, this example can be applied to many other roles and many other industries.

A final note

From the 2001 and 2008 recessions, we learned to prepare for the worst and use this time to rebuild to come out stronger during the recovery. The truth is these challenging times will pass, and we will, eventually, recover.

Lisa Rangel is the Founder and Managing director of Chameleon Resumes LLC (a Forbes Top 100 Career Website). She is a Certified Professional Resume Writer, Job Landing Consultant, and Recruiter. Lisa has been a moderator for LinkedIn’s Premium Group since 2012. Chameleon Resumes reviews the goals of each client to ensure career documents serve their goals while meeting the needs of the prospective employers. Rangel has authored 16 career resources, and has an active YouTube Channel with regular tips and advice.

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