I received a panicked call last week.  “Andrew, you don’t know me.  I just lost my job.  I’m terrified.  I’ve got 2 little kids and am the main bread winner in the family.  I am so scared!”  

You could feel she was holding back tears.

This is not the first time I’ve received calls like this.

The fact is, it can be a terrifying thing to lose your job under any circumstance; reductions in labor, layoffs, bankruptcies or being fired.  For the most part, losing a job comes as a shock – something out of left field.  And in addition to the anxiety of having to find a new job, you also are dealing with emotional and traumatic feelings of loss, embarrassment and insecurity.  One day you are working and the next day you aren’t!   You stay awake at night trying to figure out the answer to questions like, “Why was I laid off?”  “What did I do wrong?”  “How do I explain this to my next employer?”  

I set up a coffee meeting to help calm her down and give her some motivation.  Luckily she was given 6 weeks of severance and , because she was laid off, she was eligible for unemployment benefits.  Her resume was strong and showed an impressive career trajectory and up-to-date skill sets that would serve her well as she presented herself to prospective employers.

But here’s the reality:  Most professionals don’t prepare to lose their jobs.  Their jobs are comfortable and they have no reason to believe their job is at risk. But there are several things you can and SHOULD do to prepare and protect yourself in the event of a job loss.

Save some money. Most financial experts would advise having 3 months of living expenses stashed away in the event you find yourself losing your income.  Yes, I know, that sounds difficult, but stash some away in the event of an emergency.

Always keep your resume and your LinkedIN profile up to date.  Frantically preparing your resume when you are unemployed can lead to important omissions and other typos and mistakes.  If you haven’t had to write a resume in a while, think about having a professional resume writer work with you on your resume and LinkedIn profile and then look over your resume every 4-6 weeks and make sure you are updating skills, titles and accomplishments.  If you are looking for a professional resume writer, I recommend Ruth Pankratz at Gabby Communications.  CLICK HERE to visit her website and to contact here.

Keep your network strong!  Become involved with your professional association.  Make friends and contacts with industry peers, vendors and clients. Having a strong network to turn to when you are looking for a job is an excellent way to open doors to new opportunities.

Always be a passive job seeker.  In other words, even if you aren’t actively looking, continue to scan the job boards and make note of interesting companies, jobs and other opportunities. Having knowledge and also thinking about your future job will always be helpful in the event you find yourself looking.

Learn HOW to look for a job. If you haven’t had to look for a job in a while, you’ll immediately realize that job seeking has changed a lot.  I’d suggest taking some time to understand the strategies of successful job seekers and understanding the various tools and strategies recruiters use to identify talent.

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