The fear of bad news can be worse that the news itself. If you're worried about being laid off, use your premonition as motivation to prepare. Start saving money and cutting expenses, so if the unthinkable happens, you have a financial cushion to soften the blow. Spruce up your resume and begin networking with other professionals in your industry. Investigate filing for unemployment benefits in your state. Though you may be discouraged, remember -- you have options.
If your formerly friendly boss won’t make eye contact, news of a layoff could be around the corner. She might be distancing herself now to keep from having to absorb your disappointment later. Don’t passively nurse your hurt feelings and let the layoff train barrel down -- instead, confront your boss. Make up a reason to talk to her, whether its about your job performance or a play you think she’d love. Watch her facial expressions and body language. Bring up your future with the company, in terms of possible promotions or lateral moves. If your boss seems uncomfortable, standoffish, or reluctant to talk about where your career is headed, start polishing up your resume.
Nothing to Do
A decreased workload is another sure sign that you might be out of a job soon. If you used to be too busy to eat lunch but now you have time for online poker, its time to drum up some responsibility. Show your boss that you’re still a valuable asset; contact your supervisors and other co-workers to find out what they need help with. If they don’t have any work to pass your way, create new duties for yourself. Re-organize your files. Brainstorm ways you can innovate a few of your work procedures. Make sure you appear hardworking and diligent and are not just being paid to sit around thinking about how you’re just getting paid to sit around.
Rumor Has It
Rumors can’t always be trusted, but if you keep hearing layoffs are coming, layoffs may be coming. Still, try not to get upset. Keep a cool head. Just because people are going to be cut in an office-wide layoff doesn’t mean you’re one of them. Be smart though, and start saving your money -- just in case.
Dropping Like Flies
First it was Bill in accounting, then Suzie in HR. Now Julie, who’s cubicle was right next to yours, has a pink slip in one angry hand. Are you next? If you see the firing squad coming down the line, chances are you might be. Get your (ex-) co-workers' contact information before they leave, so you can keep in touch and update each other on possible job leads.
If you been asked to clue new faces in on what you’re doing, or train someone else on how to do your job, you might be getting replaced. This is especially true if your company has recently undergone a merger, and the higher ups are figuring out how to whittle two companies into one. Have a candid conversation with your boss about what’s going on, and get a solid recommendation letter just in case.
There's an App for That
If you’ve been at your job for long time, chances are technological developments have made your position obsolete. If a machine can do your job, the company might not need you anymore. Take this opportunity to get specialized; take training classes and get certifications in your field, or go back to school for a higher degree. Find a way to make yourself invaluable, to keep this from happening to you again.
Oubria Tronshaw specializes in topics related to parenting and business. She received a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Chicago State University. She currently teaches English at Harper Community College in the Chicago area.