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Dealing With a Layoff in an Economic Downturn

Maurisa Westbury

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More evidence of an economic downturn and imminent recession presents itself every day. And no aspect of living appears to be exempt from the crunch. From daily visits to the supermarket to weekly trips to the gas station, the pinch is like an unavoidable slap in the face. Compound the grim economic outlook with high unemployment rates and massive layoffs and the picture isn't pretty.

We're living in one of those times that call for making lemonade with the lemons, especially if you're out of work. The job security enjoyed by previous generations is gone and shows no signs of returning. While no one career is recession-proof, some choices are better than others are, and they all can be managed to reduce the risks and impact.

It's time to be proactive. Think of these suggestions as a personal career insurance plan and a way to build job layoff immunity: Being proactive sounds like simple advice. The term is sometimes tossed about casually and almost a cliché in the world of career advising. The truth is that career planning should be constantly in motion. The downward spiral created by an unanticipated layoff does not have to exist. The best time to update a resume is not when you're preparing for a job search.

One of the best action steps a person can take is to refresh their resume on the very first day of every job. Work-for-hire agreements and the laws in many states are not written to protect employees, old or new. In addition, non-compete clauses and other factors in an employment contract can present limitation and hinder a job search. A solid resume that's ready to send at a moments notice should be a proactive task and a priority. Another proactive step to consider is to take advantage of every available learning opportunity an employer may offer. Whether a layoff is anticipated or not, broadening a base set of skills is always a smart move.

The demand in the current job market for core skills like computer-related expertise, foreign languages, and proficiency in business writing are assets in any position and marketable in almost any field. Many companies will invest in employee development courses and certifications as ways to increase productivity and build staff value. Employers will even pay for training upfront, or at the very least, reimburse the expenses. Most large companies and many small ones offer a separation package when a layoff is expected. Some of those packages may generously include paid training for an employee to transition into another career.

A layoff may also provide the perfect impetus to consider a completely new career. It is not unusual to find baby-boomers going back to school or retirees starting a second career. Employees at risk for layoffs and cuts due to the economic downturn can plan as well. Without acting in haste, spend some time making a list of all the options that are out there - while you still have a job is the ideal time.

What's next? Laid off employees suddenly have a lot of extra time on their hands. That time can be spent reviving old contacts and making new ones. Half of a successful job search involves networking in the right circles and staying in touch with people in the know. There's also the relatively new development of social networking on the internet. It's become a necessary tool for job hunters, and highly recommended for making yourself-and your resume- as visible as possible.

They key to surviving a layoff is to prepare for it before it happens. Operating under pressure - after the fact - can create more stress and force career decisions that may not ultimately be rewarding. An ounce of proactive positioning and a pound of optimism will see you through to the next bigger and better career stage.

Maurisa Westbury is Chief Training Strategist for OnlineTraining2Go an e-learning solutions company specializing in providing computer based training via the Internet for individuals, small to medium sized businesses and the association market. OnlineTraining2Go offers an extensive catalog with over 2500 topics. The company also offers career coaching, FREE teleseminars and webinars related to career development and personal growth. If you're ready to reinvent yourself, get noticed and move to the next level in your career get your FREE report on career advancement and success now HERE


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