Wealth Management

Op-ed: I’m an advisor who helps clients navigate layoffs. Here’s my best advice to prepare

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It looks like 2024 could be the “Year of the Layoffs.”

The Los Angeles Times, Google, Amazon, Macy’s, Paramount and other companies have recently shed substantial numbers of employees.

Could your company be next? 

Over the past two decades in my work as an advisor, I have helped scores of our clients successfully navigate life-shaking layoffs. I have some advice for you: Act now.  

If you suspect layoffs are looming at your company, there are several things you should be doing to soften the blow and ease your transition to a new job before the pink slip comes.

1. Build an emergency fund, tighten up your budget

You should have at least enough money in your emergency fund to cover six months of living expenses. Review your budget (or create one) to get a handle on your finances and assess medical needs and job skills. I created a free resource at http://financialfirstaidkits.com/ full of steps you can take now. 

2. Get ready for a job hunt

Even if you feel fairly secure in your job, it’s good to prepare for the search for a new job, just in case. Update your resume and LinkedIn profile and cover letter.

3. Customize your LinkedIn preferences

I’d even recommend starting with LinkedIn first, as the career network is rich with connections and tools and features to help you quickly advise the public that you’re available for work. LinkedIn has an #OpenToWork feature that you should set up quickly. Specify the types of job opportunities you’re interested in and your preferred location to tailor your job search. By using #OpenToWork, your profile becomes more visible in search results, making it easier for recruiters to find you. 

You have the control to choose who can see your job-seeking status. “All LinkedIn Members” includes recruiters and colleagues, and adds the #OpenToWork photo frame to your profile. If you choose “Recruiters Only,” your status is visible to LinkedIn Recruiter users, providing some privacy from colleagues at your current company. However, complete privacy cannot be guaranteed.

4. Network and connect

Networking is something you should do regardless of your job status so it’s a good way to build connections without looking like you are job hunting. Make a list of former colleagues and bosses and reach out to them. Ask colleagues and work friends privately to give you leads on other jobs. Connect with your colleagues on your favorite social media accounts. 

I recommend starting with LinkedIn and checking out its global professional network, job and internship search, Networking Hub and skill development features.

5. Get your references in order

This can be tricky if you haven’t lost your job and aren’t sure you want to move on. But it’s good to have some references lined up so you don’t have to scramble if the pink slip arrives. 

Get a public endorsement aka recommendation. Your future employer will likely have multiple candidates vying for an attractive position. Make their job easier by getting a strong reference in writing and posted publicly on your LinkedIn profile.

6. Add to your skill set

Researching job skills and adding to your skill set can boost your career, regardless of whether you get laid off or not. Reviewing job descriptions in your field can tell you whether you need to learn new skills. Adding certifications or courses to your resume can be a good way to be more marketable — or promotable. 

You can check out your local community college’s offerings or LinkedIn Learning or other online course libraries. Several technology companies, including Microsoft, also offer certificate programs. Google offers several reasonably priced options as well. If you want to increase your artificial intelligence knowledge, Nvidia has courses, while Corsea has many free and paid programs. 

Getting your financial affairs in order is always a good idea.

Stressing less is good for your money and your mind. Even if it turns out a pink slip isn’t in your immediate future, making these proactive moves can help put you in a stronger position for career growth and planning for your future. You won’t be sorry.

— By Winnie Sun, co-founder and managing director of Irvine, California-based Sun Group Wealth Partners. She is a member of the CNBC Financial Advisor Council.

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