There’s nothing more nerve-wracking than the rumour of unexpected layoffs. All of a sudden, the scene at the workplace could flip. The year 2017 witnessed major layoffs by corporate giants aiming to downsize the company. For instance, one of the world’s largest hedge fund managers, America-based Citadel, cut its staff strength by more than 30%. The iconic car manufacturers, General Motors also cut around 300 jobs at their plant in Warren Michigan, and are likely to lay off more workers in the near future.
Such news can be troublesome, especially if you are working in a foreign country and are completely dependent on your current job for your sustenance. Whatever the situation, the possibility of a lay off can be extremely scary. With layoffs becoming an unfortunate reality of today’s corporate world, tough times lay ahead of us. However, there’s no need to hit the panic button just yet. Here are a few things you can start doing in advance to help prepare yourself for the unforeseen situation.
1. Save For The Rainy Day
You probably are already saving up for a vacation or towards buying your own house. But, if the office is abuzz with rumours of a layoff, you may have to relook at your priorities. If you are going to have to survive without a paycheck for a couple of months, it is time to put all your plans on hold and save up to keep a roof over your head and put food on the table.
It usually takes a minimum of 6 weeks or more to find a new job. This period can fluctuate depending on your job profile, location, industry and the current market trend. Thus, it is necessary to save enough to manage at least 4 months of expenses.
2. Networking, Career Fairs & Industry Events
Attending industry events is important if you seek to climb up the ladder, want a raise, want a change of position, or have been a victim of recent layoffs. It is necessary to attend different career fairs and industry events as it is a great way to market yourself to potential employers. Building a network with recruiters, employers and consultants are crucial. Besides, it is important to do your homework well before attending such industry events. Researching about the companies participating in such events helps one to present himself/herself in a better manner, thus increasing the chances of landing a job.
3. Keep Your Resume Updated
If you have been employed at the same job for several years, it’s quite likely that you have not looked at your resume all this time. While most of us are guilty of this, one should not let their resume gather dust. No matter how much you love your job or how good you are at it, a sudden layoff may catch you off guard. If that does happen, you will have a lot of thinking to do before updating your resume. Hence, it’s best to keep your resume updated even when you are not looking for a job. Keeping your resume relevant to the current market scenario, you have better chances of being noticed by potential employers.
If you have been recently laid off in a foreign country, it is best advised to look for a part-time job or a contract job. This will help you sustain yourself until you are able to grab the next big opportunity. However, in case you are not able to find any suitable part-time work, it is best to volunteer. Volunteering might not fetch you any money but it is a great opportunity to network. It also gives you an opportunity to learn something new. Usually, our busy schedules do not leave us with enough time to consider any volunteering work. A layoff may come as an opportunity to explore a new field.
Experts also believe that volunteering is an excellent publicizing strategy that helps you show your talent and also helps you improve your marketability. The current employment trend suggests that 60% of HR managers prefer to hire employees with volunteering experience. Thus, when done right, volunteering can also land you a job in a company you might not have access to otherwise.
5. Online Professional Education
Although it is completely natural to feel devastated by a layoff, it is also important to not let the shock overwhelm you. This is the best time for self-care. If you are out of job because of a wave of downsizing, enrol yourself for classes that will help you learn new skills that are required to get a new job. Research online and look for the skills that employers emphasize on when hiring people for a position similar to yours. Then, enrol yourself for a training course online or in an accredited institute. The layoff period is a good way to learn something new and gain an edge over others.
6. Stay Abreast Of Industry News
Facing layoffs doesn’t mean that you should disassociate yourself from the world and be aloof. Instead, brush up your skills by reading blogs and industry news in order to be well aware of the current market trends. This is a good way to stay informed while gaining insights into the workings of your industry and new developments in technology and skills.
7. Impact On Health Insurance
The impact of a layoff can be far-reaching and it can leave you stranded in more ways than one. One of the most important things that get affected is your medical insurance since it is generally provided by the employer. To safeguard yourself against any loss, there are a few steps you can take. Firstly, check with the HR and find out if your insurance has been deducted for the month or not. If it has been deducted, make sure that you avail of the benefits. Understand the company plan to keep your insurance intact for as long as you can. According to the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) in the US, in case of a layoff, an employee has the right to choose to pay and continue with the health insurance plan through the employer. You can also look at other options via Obamacare and Medicaid.
8. Unemployment Allowance From The Government
Find out if you are eligible for an unemployment benefit resulting from the layoff. Some cases of layoffs will result in benefits similar to other recipients. There are some additional rules that apply to unemployment benefits available in case of a layoff. One, that the layoff should be because of lack of work or circumstances that are beyond the control of the employer. Secondly, the employer should have attempted all options expected before the layoff. Thirdly, the layoff must be a temporary situation.
9. Visa Status In Case Of A Layoff
In the US, a new rule was implemented for visa laws effective January 17, 2017, that grants a discretionary 60-day grace period to non-immigrant persons. So if O-1, H-1B, L-1, TN, E-1, E-2, or E-3 class visa holders get laid off, they will have up to 60 days (or date of expiration of I-94), whichever is shorter. In such a case, your stay in the US will not be considered illegal. Being laid off from a company does result in a change of visa status. However, you will not be considered illegal until you overstay the given period. During this time, you can get back into status to prevent penalties.
10. Have A Back-Up Plan
If the job market looks shaky at any point, it is a good idea to build a corpus that would help you to sustain without salary for a few months. It is always a good idea to have at least 6 months of funds to keep yourself safeguarded. Health management can be a worry at the time of layoffs. Engage an independent health insurer to keep yourself safe against eventualities in case you lose company insurance due to a layoff.
Keeping yourself safe at all times is one of the best things you can do to prevent hassles resulting from a layoff at work. Always keep some savings back home so that you have something to fall back on.