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.
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.