Some company layoffs are a surprise, while others are preceded by weeks or moths of warning signs.
Workplace expert Lindsey Pollak and Monster.com career expert Vicki Salemi say if you think your employer may be about to lay workers off, the best time to act is now. “Trust your instincts,” Pollak tells CNBC Make It. “If you think something is coming, don’t just sit there and hope and wish.”
Instead, Salemi says, if you’re currently at a job you love, you should initiate an honest conversation with your boss about “where the company stands, the department, and most importantly, your job” so that you can gain a clear idea of what the future holds.
“That said, the boss may not even know the full story,” she says. “Or, even when he or she does, [they] may be unable to fully communicate — even to a top performer.”
Below, Pollak and Salemi break down the four steps you should take immediately if you feel like a layoff may be in your future:
1. Update your documents and start searching
If you suspect that your company may soon experience some major staff changes, the first thing you should do is make sure your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile are up-to-date. From there, Salemi says, you should start setting up job alerts and applying to jobs right away.
To help you tailor your resume to each job you apply to, Salemi suggests looking at the job descriptions for each position and then tailoring your resume to match the skills and key words that are outlined in the post. Salemi, a former recruiter, says candidates often get hired even when they don’t meet all of the desired qualifications listed in a job post, and says candidates should fight the impulse to dismiss jobs as “too much of a stretch” when looking.
“Just apply,” she says. In the end, things may work out in your favor.
2. Activate your network
Who you know is just as important as what you know. That’s why Pollak says it’s important that you engage in “multi-generational and diverse networking.”
“A lot of people go to the same people over and over again, and that is not going to get you very far,” she explains. “Really think about diversifying your network to people older, younger and in different industries.”
Pollak, who is the author of the forthcoming career book, “The Remix,” adds that you should also take the initiative to ask people to introduce you to other people who you think may be good for you to know.
“There is nothing wrong with having coffee with people when you are happily employed just to sort of get a feel for what is on the market,” she says. “Even if you don’t apply, you want to activate your network, because if you wait until you get fired then you have waited too long.”
3. Set up a side hustle
If you have time, Salemi says it may be a good idea to start thinking about a side hustle so that you can bring in extra income right away.
“Maybe you want to eventually work in the corporate office of a retail store, but don’t have the experience,” she says. “Then it could be a good idea to take a weekend job in a retail show room. This way, if you do get downsized, you aren’t left with no type of income at all.”
4. Use social media to your advantage
In addition to updating your resume and expanding your network, Pollak suggests you follow the companies you’d like to work for on Twitter and LinkedIn so that you can stay up to date on any hiring news.
“I call it ‘starting to fill up your tank a bit,'” she explains. “Maybe 15 minutes a day of scrolling through a Twitter feed of companies that interest you or scrolling through your LinkedIn feed. This is all just kind of a passive way to make sure you’re up to date and ready if anything happens.”
Pollak also advises professionals to create an organized list that includes companies they’re interested in, people whose careers they admire and any former colleagues who have gone on to do interesting things.
“One day you might come across something where you’re like, ‘Wow, that is interesting. I didn’t know my former colleague worked for this company.'” If that happens, she says, you should initiate a coffee date with that person to learn more about what they do and where they work.
“It’s really just about putting out the ask and being more active,” she says. “Don’t just wait, hope, wish and think about what might happen. Take action every day.”