I’m hearing about layoffs more often lately though my company hasn’t said that we’ll be affected. Should I still be worried? How can I prepare in case this happens to me?
This is a really timely question. As of this writing, it’s mid-August 2022 and the past few months have been interesting to watch as a coach and teacher. Up until about June, it was a candidate’s market BY FAR in tech. Depending on skillset, folks who were even mildly annoyed at their job could easily start interviewing. June felt different. Folks started slowly putting brakes on quitting. There were still lots of jobs but the inclination to leave was a little more restrained. (My guess is that the perception of instability makes us want to be more stable.)
Then I went on vacation in July. I was really curious to see where everyone would be when I came back… and what I discovered is that some folks are getting laid off AND they are still getting jobs. So I think there are still plenty of jobs* – though I can’t promise they’re all your most ideal dream jobs. Across our long careers, it’s extremely normal to take jobs for reasons other than Dream Jobiness. You may end up in a season of “I have a job that pays our bills” versus “I have a job that pays beyond our bills AND comes with stock options AND has unlimited PTO AND lets me work 4 days a week.” You get my drift.
Leadership at your company is conveying that you and your colleagues won’t be affected by layoffs. That’s great! So far it sounds stable. I have been on a leadership team who needed to make decisions about layoffs (both when and who they will affect) and it is awful. The second leadership starts to talk about potential layoffs, employees (understandably) freak out so leadership tends to hold onto that information until the very last second because they keep hoping that maybe they won’t have to…
What I’m trying to convey here is that you, the employee, might not always know if and when layoffs are coming. Here are a few things you can do to sleep better at night:
- Always do your best work. Notice that I’m not saying perfect work – I’m saying best work. If you’re doing the best job you can given your circumstances at the time, there is nothing you could have done differently. Doing your best work looks like: communicating well, being very good at your job, keeping yourself balanced so you don’t take your stress out on others, being a helpful member of the team. These are traits of an employee who leadership really, really doesn’t want affected by layoffs.
- Be aware of trends in your network. You don’t need to be on LinkedIn all day but keep an eye on it to see where people are going. Who’s being affected? Where are they landing? Which companies seem stable? Which companies lay off a ton of people and act like jerks about it? Be aware of the atmosphere around you. Don’t let it make you anxious, instead embrace the data that’s accessible to you.
- Chill on spending all your money. I feel like a mom giving you this advice but if you’re anticipating risk, don’t be an idiot. Make sure you have savings in case you end up between jobs. This is just normal adult stuff but still, it’s grounding to hear.
- Remember resilience. The world is not scarce. There are not a finite number of ways to contribute to the world and get paid for it. I love career coaching because it’s one of the most creative spaces I can imagine. You are resourceful; you’ve looked for a job before and you’ll certainly need to do it again. Remember that.
Grossly, the world benefits from making you feel scared about the future and there are days when it feels like the sky is falling. Here’s what I have to say: be smart and make good choices. No matter the economic atmosphere or the challenge in front of you, this is always important advice.
*Please listen to your economist friends more than me. But this is my honest opinion at the moment!
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