Laura Olert, executive career coach and senior coaching manager for Randstad RiseSmart, a global workforce solutions company.
Now that the economy is reopening from the pandemic, many companies are realizing that they over-hired. Result: Companies are laying off workers to realign with today’s economic realities, especially in white-collar industries such as technology, business services, real estate and finance.
How to tell if your job is threatened and, if so, how to protect yourself…
Read the signals. Obviously, keeping abreast of industry headlines gives you a broad sense of the terrain. Within your own company, reading investor-relations materials, attending town halls, paying attention to internal communications and talking with colleagues will further shape your understanding of how secure your job is. Take such communications with a grain of salt—they’re often spun to portray the company in the best light. Hiring and promotion freezes are obvious red flags.
Pay attention to the workplace vibe. If the atmosphere begins to feel negative…if managers offer vague responses to clear questions…you may have reason for concern. If layoffs start happening around you, you definitely have reason for concern. That’s especially true if you’ve gotten lackluster reviews, but you’re not exempt just because you’re a star performer either.
Be proactive. A surprising number of people take refuge in denial. Avoid that temptation. Even when things are going well for you and your company, you should be prepared to make a move. By the time the writing is on the wall, you’ll have everything in place to make for a soft landing. How to prepare…
Your branding: Keeping your résumé and LinkedIn profile up to date should be a constant part of working life. Get a professional’s help, at least with initial design. Then update your information annually—or even more often.
Your network: Don’t wait for a desperate moment to contact your network. Regularly maintain your relationships—and expand them. If you’re friends with someone at a desirable company who’s friendly with the head of HR, ask for an intro before you need it. Of course, once you sense the ground is shifting, ramp up your networking.
Your skills: This may be a good time to reassess your career. Are you happy with the work you’ve been doing? Should you consider another job or sector? Career-coaching services have tools to help you discover your marketability in other roles and industries—and reveal which skills you’d need to make the leap. Or perhaps there are skill gaps preventing you from promotion. The earlier you begin investing in training to enhance your skill set, the likelier you’ll be to keep your job or find a better one if layoffs come your way.