Nervous About a Potential Layoff?

There are several things that you can do to prepare if you suspect there may be a layoff where you work.

Many of these suggestions are good ideas to keep in mind even if you feel your job is secure, because they can only benefit you. (And besides, there’s no such thing as a truly “secure” job.)

Prepare financially

Cut back your spending and bolster your emergency fund. Typical areas where people can easily scale back or eliminate spending include: cable TV, internet, home phone lines, cell phone plans, eating out, packaged meals at the grocery store, cleaning supplies, entertainment, and subscriptions. The more you’re able to do this now, the less of a blow being laid off will be if it occurs. You’ll also have a cushion available that can help tide you over.

Polish up your resume

If you suspect a layoff is coming, there’s no reason to wait until it actually happens to begin your job search. Update your resume, and get it posted resume on sites like and LinkedIn.

While you’re at it, get back in touch with old contacts, since it’s common to find jobs through people you know. Provide some information that could be useful to them, and let them know that you’re interested in new opportunities at the same time. (It’s always fun to get back in touch with people anyway, so this can’t hurt.)  Make sure that your references are still willing to be references, and that the contact information you have for them is still correct.

Sign up for email lists in your field, especially lists where jobs are frequently posted. If you belong to a career-related organization, be sure you’re attending meetings regularly.

Think about health insurance

Get pricing on catastrophic health insurance, at the very least, and find out if there are any restrictions you should be aware of (such as ideal weight ranges, being a smoker, etc.) when looking into coverage. Consider joining organizations that offer group insurance to their members. If you’re in the United States, get information about COBRA insurance as well so that you can be prepared for that potential cost. (COBRA is expensive, but it’s less expensive than going without insurance and having something terrible happen. You do not want to let your insurance lapse, especially if you are older or might not otherwise be insurable.)

Research unemployment & severance information

Find out the requirements for filing for unemployment benefits, and what you can expect to receive if you are laid off. The amount of unemployment you may be eligible for can vary greatly from place to place. If you think you might receive a severance package, find out how much of that you’ll need to set aside for taxes. Try to think of ways you might negotiate severance to your benefit as well. (Remember that those things are rarely set in stone, even if they come in the form of an intimidating letter.)

Become a star at work

Make every effort to really stand out in a positive way at work. Volunteer for projects, arrive for work early, and be friendly with your boss. Talk positively about your work, your company, and your co-workers. If you do things that contribute directly to the bottom line, make sure that your boss is aware of what you’re doing. The higher your perceived value, the higher your chances are of holding out til the bitter end. And if the layoff danger passes, you’ll be in an even better position.

Try not to stress

Finally, remember that all you can do is your best. If you’ve done your best and prepared, there’s no point in worrying further. Take care of the things you can do something about, and let the rest go.  To get your mind off worrying, think about ways you could use a layoff to your advantage. Maybe it would give you the motivation you need to start a business, work on some passive income ideas, go back to school, change careers, or freelance.

On an unrelated note, my Quit Trying to Save Money post was selected as an Editor’s Pick in this week’s Carnival of Personal Finance. Thanks to Sustainable Personal Finance for hosting!