August 9, 2020

Commentary: How To Be Well-Prepared for a Layoff 

Look at the 2001 and 2008 layoff experiences then add in a few unique-to-2020 actions to prepare for this economic recession.

By Lisa Rangel, Special to California Business Journal.

In today’s economic climate, even the most stable of positions can possibly be at risk. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard stated on March 22 in Bloomberg that U.S. jobless claims may soar to 30% this year due to the effects of the coronavirus on the economy.

As of April 23, U.S. jobless claims reached 26 million according to NBC News.  With those numbers looming, it’s simply prudent for everyone to be prepared for a possible layoff and no one should assume their employment status is safe.

To prepare for a potential layoff, we look in the rear view mirror of the 2001 and 2008 layoff experiences and add in a few unique-to-2020 actions to prepare for this economic recession.

(1) Assume you lost your job today. Reduce all of the expenses you can now proactively to shrink your monthly budget to as small as you can make it. This way you will be ready with a smaller budget if a layoff were to come and, until then, save the budget savings in a rainy day fund.

(2) Be prepared to ask for healthcare benefit extensions if you expect a layoff is coming. This may prove to be more valuable than severance for some people. Do the calculations ahead of time and compare to options on to know what options you have and what costs are associated with maintaining benefits.

(3) Listen to the (PYFT) podcast. It is 52 weeks of 10-15 minute podcast episodes on steps to take to ensure you are prepared for an unexpected layoff in the best way possible.

(4) As the PYFT podcast suggests, update your resume and LinkedIn profile while you still have access to your company’s performance data. Utilize achievement-based language to strengthen each career document so you are prepared to outshine competitors when it’s time to put the documents to use.  Here are two resources to help you begin to make your document updates: and

Lisa Rangel is the Founder and Managing Director of Chameleon Resumes

Lisa Rangel is the Founder and Managing Director of Chameleon Resumes

(5) Nurture and grow your virtual networks. Sign up for your own personal Zoom account and an online scheduling tool (i.e. TimeTrade, Acuity, etc.) for online networking opportunities you can do and should do now while still employed.  As many companies migrate to work-from-home arrangements, networking-from-home activities are now equally the new rage. Using these tools set up one-on-one update chats, group social hours, professional association virtual meetups, and corporate and college alumni online get-togethers.  In today’s climate, there is no easier way to build a network than taking advantage of the online conference call tools available to you. This way your network is primed if you need it.

(6) Look where hiring IS happening.  In the end, yes, we will have more layoffs happen than hires. But that doesn’t mean hiring is zero.  Hiring happens in recessions, as we saw in 2001 and 2008. Explore openings for what you do or how your skills can be transferred to essential companies, companies needing temporary leaders and workers, forward-thinking companies that will build during the downturn, companies advertising hiring in the news and online, and downsizing companies. One common oversight is knowing that downsizing companies often hire in small amounts at the same time.  The downsizing in itself creates openings related to the function of the downsizing. Don’t assume hiring is dead because it is a crisis. Hiring is simply different.

(7)  Skills can be repurposed in case you are unable to work in your current industry.  Say for example, you are an IT leader in retail, could your skills be used in industries that are highly dependent on inventory management?  Or would sports companies, unable to do events during the sheltering-in-place era, be interested in merchandising IT expertise to expand sports attire business lines to keep fans connected to the brand? If you proactively look at areas hiring, evaluate how your IT skills could be leveraged into a new industry. And this can be applied to other industries as well

What we learned from 2001 and 2008 recessions are to be prepared for the worst, know these challenging times will pass, and use this time to rebuild to come out stronger during the recovery—because we will eventually recover.

Lisa Rangel is the Founder and Managing Director of Chameleon Resumes LLC ( ) the premier executive resume writing and job landing consulting firm named a Forbes Top 100 Career Website.  As a Cornell University graduate, she is also a Certified Professional Resume Writer, Job Landing Consultant & 13-year Recruiter. Lisa has been a moderator for LinkedIn’s Premium Groups since 2012.  Chameleon Resumes reviews the goals of senior-level job seekers to ensure career documents serve their goals while meeting the needs of the prospective employers. She has been featured in Fortune, Inc., CNN Business, Fast Company, Business Insider, Forbes, LinkedIn, CNBC, Time Money, BBC, Newsweek, Crain’s New York, Chicago Tribune, eFinancialCareers, CIO Magazine, Monster, US News & World Report, Good Morning America, Fox Business News, New York Post, and other reputable media outlets. Rangel has authored 16 career resources found at




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