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Ready Your Job for Recession

Amid market slides and the ever-present threat of recession, you'd be smart to prepare yourself (and your job) for a rocky road ahead. Plenty of big companies, including Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO  ) , Sprint (NYSE: S  ) , and Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS  ) , have announced or are expected to announce substantial layoffs.

Times have definitely changed. Don't let old assumptions and behaviors leave you unprepared if layoffs affect your job.

Out: Assuming your job is safe. In: Readying for the worst
Making the assumption that you're secure in your job is a misstep. Instead, take some steps to prepare yourself for the distinct possibility of layoffs by doing the following:

  • Craft a current resume. It's much harder to do it after you get laid off, when your spirits have just taken a big hit.
  • Make an action plan detailing companies you can contact regarding a new job. But be careful: Make sure you use your home computer for your job search and preparation activities. Your employer may be monitoring your computer use. Getting fired as a result of your attempts to be proactive about your career would be the ultimate irony.
  • Gather reference letters and contact information from current clients and colleagues.
  • Collect samples of your best work (presentations, writing samples, speeches) to keep on file at home. If you're laid off, you may not be able to retrieve any of this material from the workplace. Do be sure, however, that your work samples don't reveal proprietary information; that may spell big trouble in the long run.
  • Secure a copy of your personnel file to keep for personal reference. You may learn valuable information from performance reviews that will allow you to accentuate the positive and downplay any potential negatives for future employers.
  • Make sure that you're square with your 401(k). If you've taken a loan against your 401(k), you may have to pay it back when your employment comes to an end. If you can't pay it back, you'll be forced to treat the loan as a distribution, which could bring a 10% penalty, along with having to pay taxes on money you've already spent.
  • Get reimbursed for your flexible spending now. In many cases, you can get paid now based on what you'll contribute to your flex plan throughout the year. If you get laid off midyear, your employer may end up eating the cost. Tough break for the boss, mini-silver lining for you.

Out: Water-cooler talk. In: Networking
Use time on the job to make strategic alliances and partnerships that will advance your career goals. Take care not to alienate anyone along the chain of command -- low to high; you never know when that could come back to haunt you. Make sure, too, that you reestablish contact with old colleagues and employers who may offer valuable support or assistance in any future job hunt.

Out: Vacations. In: Training
Now may not be the best time to indulge yourself with the vacation of your dreams. Time away means an opportunity for your boss to assess how well the company can get along in your absence. The exception? Pursuing advanced training that will make your skills on the job that much more valuable -- and make you much more difficult to replace. Work with your boss to determine what type of training would be most beneficial, both to you and your company. A bonus? You can use the training as an opportunity to network with others in your field.

Out: Cutting out early. In: Asking for extra responsibilities
Perception is everything. If colleagues see you cutting out early on a regular basis, they won't stop to ask if you have your work completed before they pass judgment. Instead, volunteer for extra work, lend a hand to colleagues, and fill in for those on vacation. Of course, it pays to be strategic in your extra efforts. Send work-related emails late at night or early in the morning and come into the office on the nights or weekends when you know the boss is there, too.

Out: Expecting to be noticed. In: Making sure your value is noticed
Make sure that your employer has multiple examples of your worth to the company. You can do this formally (by creating a portfolio that includes an updated resume and work samples) and include it as part of a performance review. A less formal approach might be asking your boss how you can offer even greater value to your company, while outlining your current contributions. Either way, you want your boss -- if he or she faces a decision about whether to lay off you or the guy in the next cubicle -- to have the impression that you're flexible, eager to learn, hard-working, and accomplished.  

The time to follow through on these job-saving measures is now. While no strategy can guarantee that your current job is safe, you can't go wrong in upping your value as an employee.

Read/Post Comments (6) | Recommend This Article (4)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On September 12, 2008, at 3:52 PM, Ray9425 wrote:

    On the first tip (Readying for the Worst) I think there's one other thing you can do for your resume that helps you stand out from the crowd should you find yourself in the crowd. I've read a lot of articles lately on adding a video intro to your resume, and a company called does it for FREE. Most people's videos are about 60 seconds (short enough to keep anyone's attention), and they cover their own skills, achievements, experience, etc. - totally helping themselves stand WAY out in today's over-crowded job market. And, not only does this company let you create and post your video and resume, AND search job listings for free, but they also provide coaching, and have fill-in-the-blank scripts you can use. They even give you your own URL link (it's called ProPage) to your resume and video that you can e-mail to anybody - even put it on your LinkedIn.

  • Report this Comment On March 20, 2009, at 3:54 PM, FX123 wrote:

    I am hiring and trying to find the talent and tried all the major job boards (horrible!). I know several of my friends who hire all talk about posting their jobs on

    I guess they cross post your jobs to over 2k different sites! Its all about job distribution.

    Ill try it out why not.

    Any others?

  • Report this Comment On June 21, 2009, at 9:35 AM, Charles1212 wrote:

    I agree with Ray a good resume is very important. In addition to a good resume one should use multiple job search websites when looking for a job. I recommend , and job search engine . Using multiple sites will help you find the most current jobs sooner.

  • Report this Comment On August 26, 2009, at 11:24 PM, chris11279 wrote:

    Go Niche all the way...For managers or management level positions use and for analyst jobs , health or medical jobs

    So many niche boards where your audience is, stick with niche to get high quality instead of high quantity from the general job search engines or boards.

  • Report this Comment On September 19, 2009, at 5:51 AM, cobano wrote:

    Great tips fo recession! You can use it's job search website with seo/sem/social media jobs.

  • Report this Comment On December 09, 2009, at 1:20 PM, hirefinders wrote:

    Your tips on staying proactive during employment can prove to be very effective, especially during this crumbling state of the economy. Many people forget that they can be analyzed by their employer at any given moment; therefore it is important for those trying to secure their jobs to stay proactive as often as possible. However, if you are already faced with unemployment, I am an intern for the new job board website, I would love for you to visit the site and we welcome your feedback.

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