Corporate change is a killer. Business leaders are tasked with making decisions and effecting changes that will allow their company to maintain profitability and reduce costs, which can often require the removal of large portions of the workforce. In the rapidly shifting global business environment competitors are actively sourcing ways to achieve maximum operational efficiency at the lowest cost. In the 2010s this has manifested in an increase in outsourced or offshored work, resulting in wide-scale layoffs. The most recent example of this occurred on Thursday March 2nd as Boeing accepted 1,880 voluntary layoffs from unionized workers, with plans for a similar number for the remainder of 2017.
While the impact of corporate change is bigger than any one person’s job, being laid off is an obviously terrifying prospect. Fortunately, it does not have to be. By adopting a career-first mindset, developing a few key professional habits and understanding the very real possibility that no job is safe, you can rest knowing that your career and future prospects are protected.
Here are some keys to keep in mind if your company is currently going through a merger and acquisition (M&A) phase, or if cost-cutting is a pressing priority for your business leadership:
- Do Your Homework.
If your organization is currently in an M&A scenario, you know that one of the two organizations will be the dominant player. If it’s not your organization, it is imperative that you get up-to-speed on how the new organization does things. Terminology, corporate values, strategies and methodologies are all likely to shift, and by polling your network and using analytical reports and media coverage to glean valuable information, you are enabling your ability to adapt to the new order of business. If the new organization recognizes you as someone who is ready to adapt and work with them, they are less likely to consider you as a layoff target. This holds true for all employee levels from associate to senior.
- Assume that you could be fired today.
While this may sound counterproductive, this change in mindset encourages you to be proactive with your career interests. Create a list of things that would need to be accomplished in order for you to begin searching for a position outside your current organization. Having a structured plan that encompasses everything from networking to ensuring your resume meets current recruiting and hiring standards will allow you to transition smoothly from employment to employment-seeking if you’re the target of a layoff. Being prepared puts you in a position of security.
- Stay Professionally Active
Keeping an active network and maintaining an up-to-the-minute resume makes implementing the previous tip a piece of cake. The safety net of having all of your job searching tools ready to go at a moment’s notice is worth the work, despite how daunting the tasks may seem. Remember that networking requires you to invest time in your peers or colleagues in order to nurture a mutually beneficial relationship.
Being caught unprepared by a layoff can be disastrous to your life and finances. By staying informed, adopting an ‘I could be fired today’ mindset and working hard to keep your profile and network current, you can turn a worst-case-scenario into a segue to the next opportunity.