Although tech-industry unemployment dipped last quarter to 2.8 percent, layoffs still ripple through tech firms from time to time. Whether the result of a strategic repositioning, a merger or acquisition, or budget issues, layoffs can catch employees unprepared.
Don’t be unprepared.
Certain signs usually presage layoffs, including:
- Steep declines in corporate revenues
- Inability to secure more funding
- Management shake-ups and infighting
- Cyclical downsizing
- Outsourcing announcements
Convinced that layoffs are around the proverbial corner at your organization? Concerned that your own job is in jeopardy? There’s no sense in sitting there and worrying: here are some proactive steps you can take.
Maybe you’ve spent the past year putting off networking events, or updating your résumé. If you’re convinced that something bad is about to happen within your organization, schedule the time to attend conferences and meet-ups, as well as update your online profiles and other career materials. If you have to search for a new job, you want to be able to move quickly.
You’ve probably kept in some degree of communication with former managers and colleagues at other firms. Now is the time to revitalize those relationships. You could offer to take an influential former boss to lunch; shoot an email to your old cubicle mate; or maybe just reach out to a professional colleague who works at an interesting firm.
Whoever you contact, don’t begin the conversation by asking for a job or announcing your theory about layoffs at your firm; your mission is to reinvigorate the relationship by catching up and finding common ground.
Protect Your Flanks
While ensuring you’re ready for a worst-case scenario, maintain your energy and cadence at work. If layoffs are indeed in the making, employees who are performing vital functions are more likely to survive any cuts. You may also consider transferring to a less-vulnerable division or project (if possible).
While many tech pros focus on building out their external networks, there’s something to be said for strengthening your internal ones, as well. Interact as much as possible with employees from other divisions; make sure to spend a little face-time on a regular basis with your supervisor; and get to know other managers. While this isn’t a surefire way to bolster your job security, it can certainly help boost your profile within your company.
Keep Things Quiet
If you suspect layoffs are imminent, don’t loudly announce that you’re planning on looking for another job: that could make you a prime early candidate for the chopping block. Network discretely, and use comp or sick-time if you need to leave the office to explore other opportunities. Either update your online profiles very gradually, or adjust your settings to prevent your network from seeing those changes until you’re actually on the job market.
If You’re Laid Off
So you’ve been laid off. It’s a hard, emotional moment. Fortunately, you can prep a list in advance of important things to cover with your employer:
- What (if any) outplacement services are available?
- How long does your health insurance stay in force?
- What payout can you expect from bonuses and unused PTO?
- When will any outstanding expenses be paid?
- Can you consult with your former firm?
When you leave, make sure to take the following:
- Letters of recommendation
- Performance reviews
- Any documentation that could help with your job search
Consider immediately applying for unemployment benefits, while reaching out to your extended professional network for any assistance (or leads on open jobs) it can provide. Make sure your online profiles are fully updated and your résumé is ready for primetime.
Some tech pros find that setting post-layoff goals—such as sending out X number of résumés per week—is a good way to stay motivated and push through the inevitable emotions associated with leaving your old firm. It’s also important to keep networking—you never know when you’ll stumble upon the connection you need.