One of my social contacts has been working in the same field for the same company pretty much since she graduated. They have been doing layoffs, and she has been advised to, ahem, "get her ducks in a row", so to speak. This is a brand new process for her, and I'm helping her out with it. Given that many people are going through this, I thought I'd put together a snapshot of things you need to be working on and considering.
The most obvious step people think of is "update your resume". That's preparation 101. Yes, having your resume in order is key, but there are so many other things to do *while you are still employed* if you have any inkling that layoffs are in the wind.
1) Get LinkedIn recommendations *now* from managers, co-workers, vendors, business partners, etc. Once layoffs occur, many companies have policies against this.
2) Start building your job search strategy. This includes identifying companies/organizations you are interested in potentially joining, or that you know may have the contacts to help you in your search.
3) Start reaching out to known professional industry contacts. This might include sales folks, HR/recruiting types, association members that you interact with at those mixers or conferences; former managers or colleagues that have left the company in the last couple of years.
4) Build your reputation (also known as your "professional brand"). This is where Twitter, LinkedIn Answers, online discussion groups/forums, and blogging all come in. There are two ways of doing this: asking thoughtful questions, and answering or commenting on online content. I was sitting in a staffing meeting with my team last week, and we were going over the results of the LinkedIn Talent conference my manager had attended. One of the slides he brought up had to do with answering questions LinkedIn in the "answers" section. And on the slide, he had "Ask Kristen about this; she's got lots of expert ratings". It goes beyond just showing your knowledge, it is also one of the best *free* ways to build your network with offline conversations.
If you don't have one, start a professional blog, and if you do have one, be religious not only about posting there, but also disseminating that information: on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter as status updates. Read online articles and blogs from other folks, and make thoughtful comments, especially if you disagree with anything they have to say, but be willing to support your dissent with "and here's why" statements.
What you are doing is creating your own PR for the aggregated masses that are interested in the subjects you are expounding upon. (Like reading a blog on job seeking from a successful recruiter ;)
5) Start actively trying to be a speaker on industry panels, and be a resource for quotes in publications. How do you do that? Become friends with freelance reporters/journalists; they are always looking for sources. I did that and it landed me a year+ long gig as a columnist for the Seattle Times. I met my current manager when we both spoke together on a recruiting panel six years ago. We exchanged contact info, stayed in touch, and he actively pursued me when he started managing a tech recruiting team.
6) Start networking with non-industry professionals, and that means people like neighbors, service providers, those people that may yield unexpected leads for you.
Hopefully this list will help you prepare a little bit. It is good to do many of these things consistently throughout your career, but getting started before you are laid off can help mitigate some of the fallout.
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