While layoffs are nothing new, they have been making headlines recently in a big way. It’s not surprising, given that organizations are experiencing slowing growth along with the looming threat of a recession. According to a recent PwC Pulse Survey, 50% of business leaders plan to reduce their overall headcount, while 46% are dropping or reducing signing bonuses, and 44% are rescinding offers. While these statistics may evolve, many companies have already announced layoffs over the last several months, including Twitter, Peloton, Credit Suisse, Ford Motor Company and many others.
The current state of economic uncertainty has even resulted in a trend on LinkedIn called “career cushioning.” LinkedIn Career Expert Blair Heitmann describes career cushioning as taking actions to keep your options open so you can cushion your career from whatever comes next in the economy. She adds, “It’s like your insurance policy to set yourself up for success due to the current state of economic uncertainty.”
It pays to engage in preparation strategies. Here are five ways to prepare for potential layoffs while remaining productive at your current job.
Focus on the work
One of the best ways to deal with layoff anxiety is to focus on the work. Do you ever feel like you’re working harder and accomplishing less? One way to deal with this is to single-task rather than multitask. Multitasking makes you less efficient because your mind is continuously refocusing, which is an energy drain. Instead, give yourself permission to choose the most important project of the day and focus on that. You can even set aside blocks of time on your calendar to minimize interruptions.
Develop your personal brand
In addition to focusing on the work, continue refining your personal brand. For example, Heitmann suggests updating your LinkedIn profile. “Skills have become more important than ever in landing opportunities today, with more than 40% of hirers on LinkedIn explicitly using skills data to fill their roles,” says Heitmann. “Be sure to include relevant skills and keywords featured in descriptions of jobs that seem interesting to you in your profile, which can further boost your visibility in recruiter searches.”
Some other tips include:
- Uploading a new profile picture
- Rewriting your professional headline
- Updating your background photo, so it is relevant to your industry or brand
And the good news is that your connections don’t need to be notified when you make a change. Just go to your profile and click on settings, visibility and share profile updates with your network to turn that feature off.
Ignore the office gossip
Another strategy to remain productive is to ignore office gossip. If you notice coworkers spreading rumors, try not contributing to the conversation. Instead, try to say something positive to change the subject. Another tactic is to avoid the “energy vampires” and be careful whom you trust. Finally, if you notice your colleagues complaining about a person or problem, encourage the group to brainstorm potential solutions.
Grow your network
You’re never too young or too old to grow your network. Heitmann suggests tending to it like you would a garden. “Stay top of mind with your contacts—you don’t only want to call on your network when you need a favor, says Heitmann. “Those relations are two-way streets! There are 9,000 connections made every minute on LinkedIn, and tapping the right person at the right time is the magic formula that can help get your foot in the door.” On LinkedIn, you can even choose to signal to only recruiters that you’re open to new opportunities. With the “open to work” feature you have control over who can see that you’re ready to consider a new opportunity.
Track work accomplishments
It doesn’t matter how much you’ve been able to achieve if you can’t demonstrate your value to your boss (to get a raise or promotion) or a potential future employer. Most people list a series of bullet points on their resume amounting to their job description. The problem is that a job description is the same across candidates. What separates you from the competition are your accomplishments. And that includes any awards or other recognition you received along the way. Also, quantify your achievements, so your resume demonstrates that you are results-oriented.
When preparing for potential layoffs, the bottom line is to be proactive. If you experience a job loss, don’t overlook the support of your network. “These days, we’re seeing a new trend emerge with employees affected by layoffs turning to LinkedIn to share their news and ask their network for help generating job leads, Heitmann says. “Sharing this news can be an opportunity to open the door to connections and conversations with your current network as well as new contacts who might be able to offer advice, support or introductions that can help you get hired.”