Guest Post: When Bad Things Happen To Good Workers

On Modern Reston, we haven’t tackled topics of the workplace before, but this article written by Reston resident John Hunter is invaluable for both those just starting out and those in established careers.

20150328 011 John Hunter

John Hunter in his home office in Reston

When Bad Things Happen To Good Workers
By John Hunter

Have you ever been laid off? Do you know someone who has been laid off? Most likely the answer is yes. Recently it happened to me however I was prepared. How, you may ask? Well this article will explain. Believe it or not, there is a way to come out ahead when the unthinkable happens. The work landscape has changed drastically in the last 10 years, with layoffs coming at random, it seems. It really doesn’t matter these days if you’ve been with your employer for 1 or 20 years. Company loyalty has basically gone out the window due to financial realities. However this does not have to be a bad thing. You should be prepared for whatever comes your way. Although I was never in the Boy Scouts the motto “Be Prepared” certainly applies.

  • Watch for the signs. Sometimes there will be no signs but many times there will be. When in meetings, listen for keywords like “Right Sizing”, “Down Sizing”, “Organizational Changes”, etc. Also, listen closely to anything that mentions the budget. Press releases can also warn you of impending layoffs if they mention quarterly goals not being met or reorganizations/consolidations.
  • Keep an updated resume. When you have a job it is always easy to put off updating your resume but in truth you should do it at least once a year. If you’ve added new skills or responsibilities add those immediately.
  • Make yourself known. If you do not have a LinkedIn Profile then create one. Recruiters look to LinkedIn (and similar sites) to fill their positions and to check you out once they receive your resume. Join organizations that cater to your profession and meet the people in those organizations.
  • Keep Updated in your profession. This should go without saying, but it is imperative that you keep up with any advances in your field. It is also important to keep any certifications you have up-to-date.
  • Constantly Look. As a matter of course, you should regularly check online job sites (or internal openings) to keep up with the market. Even if you are content with your current job and expect no layoffs, it is important to know what is going on in your chosen field. If you do get laid off you’ll know the lay of the land and have a head start on your job search.
  • Never Burn Bridges. No matter how tempting it may be to “get revenge” by trash-talking your previous employer DO NOT DO IT. Potential employers will hold that against you. Even if you really did work for a terrible employer, no interviewer wants to hear it. It will make you look petty and will cost you points in any interview. Be nice and follow the golden rule. Good advice for life and good advice for work!
  • Utilize Your Social Network. If the unthinkable happens and you do get laid off, let your friends know. Post it on Facebook and shout it from the tallest mountain! Your social connections know you best and can inform you of openings at their companies. So instead of just you searching for a job, your friends will be looking for you too (be sure to return the favor when they get laid off!). Friends can also put in a good word for you and give you tips for the interview. Nowadays, there are a lot of jobs which never get posted online. Who you know is extremely important. Case and point, my two previous jobs were found through friends.

If you get laid off, there is no guarantee you will get another job immediately however being prepared certainly stacks the cards in your favor.

Many thanks to John Hunter for the excellent advice. Credit goes to Getty for the photos.