Job-Hunt’s FREE 15 Minute Guide: Layoff Self-Defense
6 Steps to Protect Yourself and Your Income
By Susan P. Joyce
Don’t Wait – Take Care of Yourself NOW:
If others have already been laid off, don’t wait for the golden handshake.
Take care of yourself NOW. Your loyalty to your employer – helping
them survive a tough economy – may not be rewarded, either by your
current employer or by future employers.
Your goal should be to find a new job before the old one evaporates.
Denial, as they say, is more than a river in Egypt, but do NOT expect
that being a great and loyal employee will protect your job. It may not.
5 Facts You Need to Know:
1. To find a new job, networking is the method that succeeds!
Networking connects 80% of people with their next job. Start
now, while you have a job!
2. Layoffs are not rational – who stays and who leaves is seldom
related to personal performance.
Those laid off were in the wrong place (department, division,
location, function, or “slot”) at the wrong time (expense cutting
3. You are more interesting to another employer when you have a
job. You are less interesting when you are unemployed.
Think about two toddlers (or two dogs or two cats) with two toys
don’t both usually want the same one? Same with employers!
Not rational, but real, nonetheless!
4. Your existing employer will not be happy to learn that you are
looking for a new job.
If your job search is discovered by your employer, you may be
fired. The fear is that you will take customers, important
information, and/or key staff members when you leave.
5. Once the layoffs start, the longer you stay, the greater your
credibility gap with potential new employers.
The “logic” is that the people who leave earliest are the best
performers with the most saleable skills while the ones who stay
until the end are the poor performers with few other options (or
they’d have left sooner).
6 Steps to Take BEFORE You Are Laid Off:
1. Establish non-employer contact channels.
Set up a Yahoo, MSN/Hotmail, or Gmail account for “private”
communications, and get your own personal cell phone, if you don’t
already have one.
Print personal business cards with your “private” contact
information on them. Include NO references to your current
employer, except (perhaps) your current job title. It is not
necessary to include your home address – use generic regional
descriptions like “Boston, MA area.” That lets potential
employers know where you live without disclosing your home
address. (Ex., Vistaprint.com – Free business cards just pay shipping ex $4.68)
Remember that protecting your privacy is not only protecting you
from identity theft, it’s also protecting your family. And, an open
job search may get you fired, so it’s protecting your income
stream as well.
Hand out your personal business cards at networking events and
use your personal email account as contact information on your
Share the contact information with your co-workers and ask for
their’s. Explain that you may need it for personal use or “in case
anything happens to either of us,” but don’t disclose information
about your job search.
2. Increase your external networking.
Check in with your college, grad school, and even high school
career center to see what services they offer.
Often free or low cost assistance includes career counseling and
resume help. It usually includes an alumni/ae directory and help
networking with other alums.
Don’t limit yourself to the schools you graduated from – consider
the schools you attended for one semester or more.
Track down old colleagues using Google, LinkedIn, ZoomInfo,
Job-Hunt.org about it.
Attend appropriate professional or business organization
meetings and events, including college reunions.
If anyone asks why you’re getting more active, suggest that it’s
good for business (your employer’s business).
If you haven’t attended for a while, volunteer to help at the
check-in desk or hand out name tags or join the program
committee or whatever you can do (well!) that will give you a
good excuse to speak with people you don’t know (or don’t know
well), particularly if you are shy.
3. Update your resume (AT HOME – NOT ON YOUR EMPLOYER’S
COMPUTER!) and very carefully collect “recommenders” and written
recommendations. ( Ex.,Portofilo of Letters of Recommendations & Thank you letters).
Use your new contact methods on that new resume. Don’t
include your current employer’s contact information – use your
personal and private e-mail address and cell phone number.
Watch for e-mail messages commending you on doing a good
job. Print them and take them home to save. If a boss or coworker
leaves the employer, ask them for their personal contact
information so that you can collect (or exchange) written
recommendations and job leads, “just in case.”
Your employer may monitor your use of the Internet (visiting job
boards, etc.) and editing your resume on “company time” using a
“company asset.” Remember Fact # 4 – employers don’t like (or
trust) job seekers on staff.
4. Expand your online presence.
Register your name as a domain name, including your maiden
name if you are a woman using a married name. (< $10/year at
This is a good thing to own, whether or not you use it
immediately. And, in the future, this will be the basis of your
“personal brand” for other 21st century job hunting.
Set up a LinkedIn, ZoomInfo, and/or Ziggs profile.
Check to see if others working for the same employer have also
set up public profiles. Search on your employer’s and/or coworker’s
names. If other employees have public profiles,
particularly those more senior to you, you’re probably safe with a
public profile yourself.
LinkedIn is particularly good for collecting recommendations and
writing them for others. Be careful about selecting “Career
opportunities” in your contact preferences. Again, see what
others working for the same
employer have done, particularly those senior to you.
5. Consider what you might want to do “next,” where you might want to
work. Then, make a plan to get there, and start implementing it.
What are you interested in? What do you enjoy doing?
Take “interest” tests, read books like What Color Is Your
Parachute by Richard N. Bolles, and see if you can get help from
Do you need more experience in a specific area?
If you can, volunteer for a task that will give you that experience
working for your current employer. If you can’t get that experience with your current employer, see if you can get it volunteering for a charity you support, with a relevant professional organization, or with a political candidate or
cause. Do you have an educational gap that you need to fill for that new
Take a class to fill, or to start filling, that gap. Thousands of
schools offer countless courses that you can take online from
home (and be prepared to pay for it yourself so you won’t have
any explaining to do in the beginning or reimbursement to do
Any companies you would like to target as potential employers?
Research potential employers! You don’t want to be the last
person hired before the layoffs begin at the new employer, so
check out the Website, Google the company and look past the
first page of Google search results because savvy companies
“bury” their “digital dirt” below a plethora of positive information.
Start working on your network to reach into those employers’
organizations. This is where that college career center,
LinkedIn, et al, can be very helpful.
6. Cut back your spending. Save money in case you are laid off before
you find that next job so you can keep paying your mortgage and utility
If you have a mortgage, see if you can refinance to get a lower
interest rate and a lower monthly payment.
If you own a home outright or have a mortgage and don’t have a
home equity line of credit, see about getting one, but don’t use it
until you have no other options to pay your bills.
Check with your credit card companies, and ask if you qualify for
a lower interest rate, particularly if you can’t pay off the balances
in full every month.
This e-book is provided to help job seekers deal with the problems of
preparing for a layoff. Individual job seekers are welcome to share this
book with their friends and colleagues.
It may not be used for commercial benefit by anyone without written permission.
© Copyright 2008, NETability, Inc.
The contents of this e-book are protected by US and International
This edition is dated August 20, 2008. If that is more than 6 months
ago for you, find the latest edition at Job-Hunt.org/guides/layoff-selfdefense.
About the Author: Susan P. Joyce
Susan P. Joyce has been editor of Job-Hunt.org since 1998 when her
company, NETability, Inc. purchased Job-Hunt.org. Susan has over 30
years of experience in the IT world (she’s a quasi-geek) plus several
years of experience working in the Personnel Office at Harvard
University and one year as an assistant project manager for salary
compensation survey consulting company.
Susan has been “laid off” twice – the first time by the U.S. Marine Corps
at the end of the Vietnam War and the second time in 1994 when her
employer, Digital Equipment Corporation, started the massive layoffs
that ended with the company (for several years # 2 in the computer
Layoff Self- Defense by Susan P. Joyce
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Job-Hunt’s FREE 15 Minute Guide: Layoff Self-Defense
© Copyright 2008, NETability, Inc.