Your company is in trouble. The stock is down, reduction in force is rumored. What should you do? Having survived three layoffs, I can talk with experience!

How to Avoid Being Laid Off

Make yourself indispensable.
- Working on the lifeblood of the company, key projects, or the live-or-die deals can mean management needs you.
Be friends with the boss.
- Unfortunately, it is not always what you know but who you know. I have seen people kept on because they play golf with the right people!
Keep your nose clean!
- Do don't anything that will cause your boss to doubt your ability - get in on time, don't abuse casual Fridays with cut-offs and a tank-top, and be careful of personal email on office time, padding your expenses, or two-hour lunches

How to Be Prepared if You Are Dumped

Make sure you have an up-to-date resume.
- Include specific and measurable accomplishments from your current job. It's much harder to access key information after you have left.
Start looking.
- Start applying for jobs. Be discrete e.g. don't give out your company email, or make job calls from work. Be in action.
Get prepared.
- If it's been a while since you applied for a job, work on your job hunt skills by reading some how-to books, getting a coach, or taking a class.
Go shopping.
- Make sure you have business dress for interviews and networking. And the suit you wear to funerals that you bought in 1973 doesn't count as appropriate.
Get packing.
- Most companies ask the person laid off to leave that day. And many companies restrict what you can leave with. Sales people are often not allowed to take their rolodexes. Gaphic designers are not allowed to take samples of what they have been working on. And managers can't take presentations and plans they have sweated blood over. But you will need those in your next job. Of course there is an ethical question. You can't steal your company's trade secrets. Depending on your company's policies and your own values take only what is personally yours - i.e. the contacts you came with, the pricing models you created. But you may also need examples of what you have done while at your job. One middle course is to delete the company logo and identifying information from your samples so that they are vanilla versions. This may meet your needs and protects your old company. In the end the decision must meet your ethical values and the law!
Clear out your hard drive.
- Make sure that you have copies of anything personal you have been storing on your computer. And preferably delete those so you don't leave your recipe for Goulash or your bank PIN for the next person who uses your computer.
Ask for home contact info
- Often we have good friends who we only talk to at work and we don't know how to contact them. Ask for home email or phone numbers. Circulating a contact list for people to sign up is a good way of keeping in touch.
Remember it's just a job!
- Even if you don't have your job you still have family, friends, health and whatever. It is tough when your income disappears but it's not your life. Your life is a mosaic of many things and work is only one area of that design.

Author's Bio: 

David Couper is a career coach and writer who for the last twenty years has worked in Europe, Asia, and in the USA with major organizations including the BBC, Fuji Television, Mattel, Sony, and Warner Bros.

He has successfully coached individuals at all levels including CEOs of major companies wanting a new challenge, frustrated souls wanting to make their dream come true, and front-line employees laid off and desperate to get a job.

David has published seven books. His works on interpersonal skills, counseling in the workplace, and management issues (published by Connaught, Gower, HRD Press, Longman, Macmillan/Pearson Publishing, Oxford University Press) have been translated into Swedish, Polish, and Danish, and published in the UK and the USA.

David has a degree in Communication, a postgraduate qualification in education, is certified in a number of training technologies, and has a Masters in Psychology. He is a member of the American Society of Training and Development, Society of Human Resources Professional, Writers Guild and the British Academy of Film and Television.

He has dual US/UK citizenship and speaks French and Japanese.

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