- Realize that unless you own the company, you are not indisepensible to it. No matter how great you think you are at your job, you can lose your job to downsizing during a recession. No one is immune. You need to do these next four steps, now.
- Prepare financially to the extent you can. This means getting on a strict budget, paying off debt, and building savings (see my article Finances - Get Back to Basics for more ideas and tips). Building up an extra supply of food and other needed items could also come in handy.
- Get ready to look for a new job now, don't wait until you are fired. Update your resume today. Make sure you have updated contact info for all your references. Start networking. Make some phone calls to your friends and contacts to see if their companies or industries are hiring. Be discrete - some companies frown on their employees job hunting, but what they don't know won't hurt them.
- Take steps to protect your current job. Check out Fifteen Commandments of Keeping Your Job. Don't give your employer a reason to fire you.
- Learn new skills. Take some classes at a local community college. Take a marketing and/or public relations class (surprisingly useful to most jobs/careers). Learn to sell (read the book SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham - considered a business classic). Brush up on your computer skills. Learn bookkeeping/accounting. Learn Spanish for the workplace. The more you know, the more employable you will be.
Okay, you've been downsized, laid-off, restructured, or whatever euphemism for being fired that your company choose to use. Now what? How do you find a job during the middle of an economic crisis? Your job-hunting strategies will be much the same as during the good times.
- You are much more likely to find a job through a friend or family member than through the classifieds. So get out there and work your "network." Call or email all your friends, family, former co-workers, fellow church members, old college roommates, neighbors, industry colleagues and anyone else you know. Tell them you are out of work and ask them if they know if their company or industry is hiring. Ask them to let you know of any openings they hear of.
- Step away from your computer. Job hunting sites like monster.com and careerbuilder.com are useful job hunting tools, and you should use them. However, you are still more likely to find a job through your network of personal contacts than though the Internet. Don't let your Internet search consume all of your job hunting time.
- Take advantage of any job-hunting help that may be offered by your former employer or your local government. Local governments, and occasionally the companies themselves, will often try to help people left unemployed by large-scale lay offs by conducting job fairs, holding job-hunting seminars, or even offering special training.
- If you are a college graduate, get your college to help. Most colleges and universities have a career development office to help both current students and alumni. These offices offer everything from aptitude testing and resume help, to job boards listing openings provided by other alumni.
- Check out the resources of you local community college. Many have career development centers that offer everything from free and low-cost training courses to aptitude testing to skills assessment to help writing your resume. Best of all, these resources are available to the community as a whole, not just current or former students.
- Consider temporary or part-time work while continuing your job hunt. The extra income will help. Be aware of how this may or may not effect any unemployment benefits you might be receiving.
- Consider learning a trade. Demand seems soft for many so-called "white collar" professions, and likely will remain so for the foreseeable future. But there is an actual shortage of qualified trades people. Training can be had for low cost at your local community college, and you may even qualify for reduced rates (or even free) if you have been recently laid off or are currently unemployed. For more information of the trades, see the wikipedia article Tradesman, the website of the Center For America, and the mikeroweWORKS Foundation.
- Don't be a "Job Snob." Be willing to settle for less until you can find more. You may have to take a job making less money, or with less prestige, than your old job. Be willing to work outside your preferred industry. Don't despair, you can always find a new, better paying job once the economy turns around.