DO NOT conduct your job search during work hours or with employer-owned equipment. U.S. Employers have the right to monitor anything you do with company assets (computer network, computer activity, e-mail, etc.) This is a quick way to get you fired.
- Develop and enhance your network. Actively network with professional organizations and colleagues in other companies. Make efforts to increase your visibility inside and outside your company. Publish articles and/or make presentations at professional organizations.
- Be professional at all times. Don't burn any bridges at your current company. Speak to mentors within the company and line them up as references. You never know when someone you worked with or for may be in a position to hire you at another company or in a different position within your company.
- Sharpen your skills, learn new ones. Consider how your skills may translate into other jobs or fields.
- Update your resume and keep it current.
- Quietly do housekeeping at your current job. Often, after a layoff, people are given very little time to clean out their offices and remove personal belongings. Make sure you have a copy of your contact list at home, remove all personal files from your computer, take/send home copies of work product you want to keep, remove important possessions, locate copies of your performance appraisals and other personnel records.*
- Build your emergency fund and create a post-layoff budget. Immediately stop unnecessary spending and begin living on a barebones budget.
- Develop an exit strategy. Look into severance packages and what you may be able to negotiate on your way out the door. Create an agenda for discussion with the boss or human resources department. It's a list of all the things they could do for you on termination. Have it ready in your desk, because you never really never know when you'll be notified about your layoff. People being laid off are often provided with "outplacement" services - which includes career counseling, resume services, etc. Several weeks, or months, of vacation or continued salary will be helpful. Do not do anything extravagant with a severance package you may receive. It may take you as long as six months or more to find a new job.
- Always look for new career opportunities. Even if your current job feels comfortable and secure, you never know when your dream job may become available. Keep your resume updated and make sure that the right recruiters have your phone number. You should always have a passive job search in progress. That way, you’ll always enjoy a steady stream of job leads and you’ll have a head start on landing your next position if you get laid off. This may sound like obvious advice, but few people truly take it seriously until it’s too late. Don’t allow yourself to be lulled into a false sense of security. When the layoff rumors start buzzing, goose your passive job search and get a little more active about exploring your options.
- Investigate your health insurance policy. Be clear on what your health plan covers, and figure out how much it would cost to extend your employer’s group insurance coverage through the federal program COBRA. Be aware that you would have to pay both the employer and employee shares of the premiums which can be costly but at least you’d get to keep the same coverage. Investigate independent insurance plans if necessary.
- Prepare a reference list. Create a list of people who will serve as references for you "just in case." If someone has had an opportunity to see you at work and views you favorably, ask if they will be a reference for you. Ask supervisors, managers, colleagues, co-workers, and even subordinates. Then, ask for their personal contact information so that you can stay in touch after you or they leave your current employer. Get approval from as many people as possible because there will be attrition as time passes.If someone doesn't agree or seems reluctant, don't use them as a reference. They could hurt your next job search if a potential employer calls them.
- Be cautious about using company assets for personal reasons. Stop using the company e-mail for personal messages to family and friends outside of the company. Be mindful of what is charged to the company credit card, etc. If there is a layoff pending, someone viewed as "abusing company assets" for personal use may be at greater risk than other employees.
*"Be careful about removing anything that the company would consider to be owned by the company, anything that would be 'proprietary' to the company, or anything that would compromise their business and your future (like customer lists, proposals, patent applications, financial reports, etc.). Note that, unless you've made other arrangements in advance, your employer probably 'owns' what you have created at work. They also own your office computer and the office supplies you use. Use your own judgment and ethics, but be careful. If something is marked 'company confidential,' leave it alone. Former employees can be, and are, sued for violating agreements. They can even be accused of theft. If you aren't sure, call an attorney outside the company. You don't want to become a "criminal" in the process of preparing for your next job search." - Susan P. Joyce, jobhunt.org