As an Oil and Gas professional, Fridays are both a curse and a blessing depending on whether or not I have a job at the end of the day. Since the price of oil has been on a perpetual decline and showing no signs of a recovery, thousands of employees have been laid off.
Everyone from Jim the tool pusher to Amy in accounting has been affected by layoffs, whether they have been laid off themselves or been a part of the weekly (in some cases, daily) cuts that continue to take place.
I have personally been through several rounds of layoffs (and to be frank, I have lost count of how many) so I consider myself to be experienced in these matters. Most of you that are new to the workplace might be wondering if there is anything that you can do during a layoff.
Here are 4 steps for surviving layoffs:
1.) Start Making Your Move NOW
You may have heard that finding a job is much easier when you're still employed. This is true and it has to do with perception. Managers and HR will have a bias towards employees that were laid off simply because they may assume you were no longer valuable for your previous employer which is why you were let go.
Whatever the case may be, if you are aware of layoffs you need to switch from defense to offense and start making backup plans in case you are let go. This is the time to reconnect with recruiters, friends, and other contacts on LinkedIn.
Some schools allow alumni to continue having access to job boards so take advantage of this if you have a choice. Also consider attending a career fair even if you have graduated and feel you are safe at your current place of employment. You never know what positions may become available so take the opportunity to attend.
2.) Focus on What YOU Can Control
There are certain realities that are beyond control but one reality that you are in control of is YOU. When you see your cube mates being let go chances are their workload needs to be carried by someone else. If you are given the opportunity to take on additional projects GO FOR IT!
If you are asked to take on another role or switch departments do so with a positive attitude. Even if you're not excited about it, maintain a positive attitude and do not showcase your true emotions. If a manager or another higher up senses that you are not willing to be flexible it can increase your chances of ending up on the chopping block.
3.) Think BIG Picture
I had a career adviser tell me prior to starting my post-undergrad job that, "The person who knows HOW will always have a job. The person who knows WHY will always be his boss."
Chances are everyone from the lowly cubicle dwelling minion to Vice Presidents will experience some anxiety about layoffs. You may notice that your manager has a difficult time staying focused given that his team has been shrunk by 60% and his or her job may be on the line.
This is where you need to think BIG picture. You should know what your manager prioritizes in terms of the work that you and your team perform. Keeping this in mind and staying one step ahead of the curve will make your boss's life easier. Believe me he or she will take note and will sing your praise in front of their superiors.
For example, the company I work for is in the process of merging with another industry heavyweight. As a result I realized that data such as sales, revenue, and other analysis will be needed so I focused on pulling whatever relevant information I could find. Sure enough I was asked to provide a complete fiscal year breakdown by specific geographic regions for an impromptu meeting. Having done the work already it put my manager at ease and showcased my ability to anticipate needs before being asked.
4.) Don't Hide in Your Cube...Be Visible
Despite the downturn my company has been engaged in various volunteering activities and fundraisers. I made it my goal to attend as many of these as possible as they are frequented by upper management. By volunteering and meeting various executives during these events I have been able to transform myself from just another employee to the one that my VP knows by name and acknowledges in the hallway.
It may not seem like a big deal but having done the above I have now been pulled into senior integration meetings and given heavier responsibilities due to increasing my visibility amongst management.
In closing no one is 100% safe during layoffs however you can take steps to ensure that you can survive for as long as possible while creating a game plan to move onto another career. For those that are experiencing layoffs I wish you Good Luck.
If anyone would like to talk to me feel free to send me a PM and I would be more than happy to talk with you.