Layoffs are tough. There’s no two way about it. If you or someone you know have been a part of a layoff, please accept my sincerest condolences. Not long ago, I was in a similar situation, when one of my past employers asked me to find an alternate or they will have to fire me. It was brutal. I had been a good performer throughout my career and I never imagined I’d be on the receiving end of this conversation, ever. But life had other plans. Shortly after that I resigned and I was too scared to jump into another job. It brought me to one of the lowest points of my life.
It took me a long time and everything I had, to get myself back-up. Today, I am comfortable enough to speak about it without feeling ashamed. Today, I am mature enough to understand and accept that maybe I wasn’t performing at my best and that the company I was working for wasn’t equipped to handle this situation well. Be that as it may, I don’t wish to be in that situation again and I hope the same for you.
It is with this thought, that I ended up writing the following Career Contingency Framework. It contains questions, that will help you prepare for such situations. Each question when answered and acted upon will bring you a step closer to your Career Contingency Plan. I hope you don’t have to invoke this plan ever but nonetheless it is always good to have one.
Career Contingency Framework
Points to remember
- Your tenure at the company, performance, seniority and years of experience may not matter if the company has decided to eliminate your job function.
- In continuation to the above point and despite how hard it might be to believe at the time, the layoff is not a reflection of your self-worth.
- It is always good to know about the company’s severance policy beforehand, to understand the financial implication of a layoff, if there is one.
- How to know if the company you are working for could initiate a layoff?
- In the history of the company, how many times has the company initiated a layoff and under what circumstances?
- Do the company’s recent financial results report a lower performance?
- Does the company has a strategy to deal with recession that does not involve layoffs? What is that strategy?
- How are you keeping your skills and knowledge up to date?
- Have you updated your resume and cover letter (optional) in last six months?
- Do you have an alternate skill set that you can leverage to find work in another field until things settle down in your primary field? This is optional but it will make life a lot easier. When layoffs happen usually job listings in the primary field get crowded with a lot of applications. It may be a while before you even receive a call back. Having an alternate field to work in, will help take out some stress from this process.
- Do you have another source of income (could be anything) that can support your basic and necessary expenses (bills, fees, basic grocery and ration, rent etc.)?
- Do you have a monthly budget that could help you eliminate all unnecessary expenses in case of an emergency? Do you know your monthly absolutely necessary expenses?
- Do you have an emergency reserve fund to support you and your family for next few months (three, six, nine…)? Having one for at least three months is absolutely necessary.
- In case of a layoff, do you have a plan to get up, dust yourself off and get back on track? (Family support, mental health check, breaks, mentors, counseling etc.)
- Your physical and mental health is important, specifically during this period. How do you plan to take care of them (eating right, psychical movement / exercise, a support group to talk to, breaks, cutting off news and negative / dark content, spend time with family and friends etc.).
If you feel I have left out something important or if something is impractical, please reach out to me via Twitter @udmittal. I will be happy to modify the framework accordingly. Let’s make this a go to resource for every employee so that we can stop worrying about what tomorrow may bring. Spread the word, simply share this link https://yks.red/ccf with your network to direct them to this post.
P.S: I also recommend that you read the book Practical Doomsday by Michal Zalewski to help you plan ahead.