Editor's note - You can trust the integrity of our balanced, independent financial advice. We may, however, receive compensation from the issuers of some products mentioned in this article. Opinions are the author's alone, and this content has not been provided by, reviewed, approved or endorsed by any advertiser.
Tools to help you be prepared in case the unthinkable happens.
It’s 3 in the afternoon and your boss calls you into her office. You’re being laid off, and it pains her as much as it does you, she says. You get two weeks severance, and you need to pack your office and be out by 5. Have a nice day.

So what do you do? That’s the question I asked after reading a recent article in the WSJ about a head hunter who, ironically, was unexpectedly laid off from his job. And it occurred to me that I’m not really prepared for such an event. What would I do and what resources would I need if tomorrow I lost my job?

And from this question was born this Survival Kit. The idea is to prepare your kit today, even if you think you’ll never need it. At least you’ll be prepared. So here it is:

1. Update Your Resume

You should always have an updated resume on file. I’ve worked at my current job for about 3 years, and after reading the WSJ article, I realized I had never updated my resume with my current position. I hope not to be leaving any time soon, but the last thing you want is to have to throw together a resume while dealing with the emotions of having lost your job. If you need help writing or updating a resume, here are some good resources:

  • Live Career: Here you’ll find a free resume building tool. You can select from a number of design templates, and the tool walks you through enter the information you want to include in your resume.
  • Resume Builder: As the name suggests, this site is dedicated to helping you build a resume.
  • Word Templates: Microsoft offers free resume templates for Word.

2. Update Your Network

Some folks are natural born networkers. I’m not one of them. That said, you should keep a list of contacts you would reach out to if you were in need of a job. This list should include not only those that may hire you, but also those that can spread the word and keep a look out for job opportunities. Here LinkedIn can be an invaluable tool. The key, however, is to start connecting with people in your field now, not when you get laid off.

3. Identify Job Resources

Where would you look for a job? It’s a simple question, but one worth asking now, not after you’ve lost your job. Depending on your experience and field of work, you may find job opportunities in any number of places. Here are a few online resources, including some that specialize in 6 figure income jobs (no, I’m not kidding):

  • Monster: Perhaps the best known online resource for jobs.
  • TheLadders: This site is focused on $100,000+ jobs. You must register, and the site offers both free (with limited job searches) and ($30 per month) memberships. One odd feature is that during registration, you must indicate which of three salary ranges you currently fall into. If you make less than $75,000 per year, the site directs you to Monster or Hot Jobs. There is no verification of salary, however, so I’m not really sure what the point is. That said, using the free membership, I did find a lot of job postings in my field in the Washington, D.C. area.
  • 6FigureJobs: To join this website you must have a valid resume, earned $100K+ at a previous job, and at least 6 years of experience in your field. Membership is free. I was able to search for jobs without registering.
  • Executives Only: This site claims to specialize in jobs with salaries ranging from $100K to $1MM. Membership costs $98 for three months, which is required to apply for any of the job listings. You can search many of the jobs without a membership.
  • Indeed: This is the Google search engine for jobs. Very easy to use, and a great tool to help you find your next job.

Related: 8 Jobs That Pay $100k Without a College Degree

4. Read a Book

If you haven’t read it already, you should read Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life by Spencer Johnson. Life can sometimes throw us a curve ball, especially with our careers. This book does a good job of describing how one should, and shouldn’t, respond to losing a job.

5. Prepare a Doomsday Fund

It’s basically an emergency fund on steroids. One of the basic concepts is to determine what steps you would take to raise money and decrease spending if your family lost some or all of its current income. Would you sell one or more cars? Or boats? Or second homes? What monthly expenses would you get rid of such as cable, health club memberships or netflix? What changes would you make to your lifestyle to reduce spending on items such as clothing or entertainment?Thinking through these issues ahead of time will help you handle a financial crisis should one come your way. A Doomsday Fund enables you to plan now for what steps you would take to shore up your finances if you were to lose your job.

If your out of a job and have come to this page, I hope some of the information will prove helpful, particularly the suggested online job websites. If you have a job, but want to be prepared in case the unthinkable happens, this is a good starting place. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Article comments

plonkee says:

I think that I’m fortunate that over here you can’t just be laid off at will.

Looking forward to hearing about the Doomsday Fund.

reinkefj says:

In helping out of work execs, I find that most were simply unaware that unemployment was even in their future. Blissfully ignorant. To quote the Dean Wormley character in Animal House, “fat, dumb, and stupid is no way to got thru life”. So to, the blissfully unaware get a rude awaking when they turn some milestone of age and find that they are unemployable. Then they are stunned to find out that there is “age discrimination” out there, salespeople that wined and dined them for their orders are mia, and recruiters who were dying to talk to them don’t return their phone calls. Yup, it’s a shock. And, what is even more stunning, once they’ve had the experience, lived through it, and got another “job”, they resume their blissful ignorance as if nothing had happened. They learned nothing. And, surprise suprise, the Universe schedules them for remedial education with another bout of unemployment. Sigh.

Sample Resumes Examples says:

A skills resume combines the skills you have from a variety of experiences – paid work, volunteer work, student activities, classroom work, projects, you name it – and groups these skills by category of skills that relate to the kind of job you’re seeking. This format works best when a traditional resume just doesn’t work to make you look like a good candidate even though you have relevant skills

shane says:

These are great tips.
I’ve had great success in finding $100K+ jobs at Big Shot Jobs.

No body can be certain of his permanence in a job, many things could happen and at any moment we can lost the job, we need be prepared and good and updated resume is very necesary.

I feel if you are the best at your work, you dont have to think for being laid off.
But the extra money making is always better.

ayslyn says:

we should never take anything for granted.jobs,health,life..i think the most dangerous place to be in a recession is in a large city.you cant grow a garden in an apartment building or a condo unless youve got the roof and not many places in the city have wood stoves or places to buy firewood.if you cant afford your electric bill or any municipal service youre pretty much cut off!where ever you live try to live within your means and forget about trying to keep up with the jones’.theyre too busy working to pay off everything they dont really own yet.youll save more money if you invest the money you do have and stop caring so much about what others think!.

Web Design says:

Getting laid off is something that everyone fears and has this thing at the corner of the minds. At a subconscious level, everyone knows that this could happen to them. Your post will definitely give them solace and ideas to get ready for when it happens.

Some great tips there. Should be helpful in difficult times.

deneese says:

This is great! I was so emmersed into daily tasks that I thought I didn’t have time to update my resume. With a two week notice, I have found time! Too bad I didn’t hear/understand this sooner.

Web Dizajn says:

Your blog is really helps for my search and i really like it.. Thanks a lot..:)