So, the time has come. You hear rumors floating around the office that layoffs are coming and you feel your job might be at risk.
So, how can you prepare for layoffs, especially as an executive?
You are in a tricky spot. You don’t want to abandon your company, but you see the writing on the wall. At the end of the day, it is every person for themselves.
You can take several steps to ensure the layoff process goes smoothly.
Being proactive can go a long way.
You don't need to end up blindsided.
After all, you have a successful and storied career that should be honored.
Be enthusiastic that you will find another executive job, but in the meantime, it is important to prepare for the layoff.
Let’s discuss how you can jump into your next executive role ASAP.
1. Update your executive resume
One of the first things to take care of when preparing for a layoff is your resume.
An outdated, poorly written resume can quickly turn a potential executive opportunity into a long-gone opportunity.
Take a long hard look at your resume and ask yourself this:
Would you hire yourself if your resume came across your desk?
(Note: this should be a common theme throughout this process. Stay honest with yourself and stay focused.)
Translating all of your experience and skills into a resume that tells your story is a difficult task. You are not an expert in everything, after all.
There surely have been instances in your career where you passed a task off to someone who is better at it. This is just another one of those situations.
Hiring a resume writer is a great step towards creating a resume that will secure you that next executive job.
Since you’ve reached the executive level of your career, you need a resume writer who is not just your typical run-of-the-mill writer.
You need a resume writer that specializes in taking your long, accomplished career and turning it into a resume that showcases just that.
Many resume services offer executive resumes, but you should go with a service that truly has a focus on executives.
Don't expect to pay $200 for quality. You will most likely have the most success paying between $750 - $1,500 for an executive resume.
(Check out our list of the best executive resume writing services.)
Below you’ll find a sample resume (first page only) from the leading U.S. executive resume service, Find My Profession.
If your resume doesn’t look anything like this one, you should definitely consider hiring a professional resume service.
2. Budget conservatively: 6-12 months
Be frugal! The average executive job search lasts nine months.
Keep in mind that this is just the average; many people we have talked to have been out of an executive job for more than a year.
Budgeting for that amount of time can be very difficult.
- Talk to your financial advisor and creditors about your situation.
- Keep them in the loop about what is going on.
- Discuss how you can handle it together.
They will appreciate the transparency and will be more willing to work together.
Talk to your family and work with them to establish what expenses need to stay and what can go. Dining out, for example, is a luxury that should be eliminated.
Also, think about ...
- Sporting events
- New clothes
- Other expenses that can wait while you are on the job search
As a high-earning executive, you may be accustomed to a certain quality of life.
However, now is not the time to continue with your current spending habits.
Maintain just the essentials in your life and hunker down. Your next executive job will be here before you know it!
Healthcare and insurance can be another tricky world to navigate.
Some government assistance will cover health insurance for a few months after you get laid off. The Cobra program allows you to keep your company health insurance for 18 months after you lose your job.
You have to pay 100% of the insurance costs yourself; you would need to allocate several hundred or even thousand dollars to your insurance each month.
If you have a spouse who works, consider utilizing their job's health insurance.
Every situation is different and only you can decide the best route.
In the meantime, to earn extra money, you could always start a side hustle.
Your experience as an executive is incredibly valuable.
A popular option is to start your own consulting firm on the side.
- It will allow you to bring in extra money while utilizing your talent.
- You can also make connections and earn income when things are slow.
- Plus, you can keep it up even once you’re in your next position.
Find My Profession offers executive job search services and reports that 83% of their clients find an executive job within six months due to their help.
That is a much quicker rate than the national average and is definitely an investment to consider.
3. Begin to network
Network! Seriously, talk to anyone you can find.
You never know who is going to lead you to your next big opportunity.
- Start with friends and family; this results in 10% of executive hires.
- Move on to former co-workers you had a good relationship with.
- Network with past managers and find out what they are up to.
If they are at a new company, ask to meet them for coffee so you can catch up.
Begin to contact anyone in your life that might know what an asset you are to an organization.
This could be alumni, people you volunteer with, etc.
You don't have to go to awkward networking events and mixers to meet people.
These days, most networking can be done via phone, email, LinkedIn, or in-person over coffee/lunch.
We have heard many stories of a friend or coworker contributing to a new job opportunity. This interaction leads to nearly 1/3 of all new executive hires.
On a more personal level, be honest with friends and family.
Those who love you will be supportive of your layoff and will provide moral support and additional networking opportunities.
4. Stay calm and enjoy your time off
As long as you stay calm and focused, you will find a job in no time.
If you have some savings, make sure that you enjoy your time off a little.
- Spend more time with family and friends.
- Take a vacation.
- Work on your relationship with your significant other or children.
There are so many positive avenues where you can direct your energy.
Make the effort to be in the right headspace mentally so that you can nail any upcoming job interviews.
Take time to evaluate what you are looking for in a position. The last thing you want to do is relive this job search process by quitting a new job because it's not the right fit for you.
The time off may give you a new perspective on things.
You might consider a different vocational direction than you initially thought.
No matter what the future may hold, staying relaxed throughout the process will help things go as smoothly as they can.
5. Consider hiring an executive job search firm
A job search is arguably one of the most difficult tasks that anyone faces.
An executive job search is even more difficult.
- There are fewer opportunities.
- The competition is tougher.
Using a professionally managed job search firm can help you connect with the right companies and opportunities, saving you hundreds of hours.
Find My Profession offers a Career Coaching Service that will manage your entire executive job search.
Not only will they write your resume, LinkedIn, and cover letter, but they will also search for jobs, apply to jobs, and network on your behalf.
Below is an illustration showing the time you could save by hiring an executive search firm for your job search.
When working with Find My Profession, you not only should expect to reduce the amount of time you have to spend doing something you hate, you can also expect more interviews and offers.
6. Start your job search ... yesterday
The best time to start your executive job search was yesterday.
The second best time is now.
Do not wait until the layoffs are announced by the CEO; start looking right away if you suspect layoffs are coming.
Again, the executive job search can take months and even years.
Getting a headstart on the search can help you get ahead of the other executives that are also being laid off. Naturally, this can put you in a better spot.
Who knows? You may have a new job lined up by the time layoffs are announced.
7. Develop your routine + skills
With all of your new free time, it can be difficult to maintain a strict schedule.
You can easily find yourself sleeping until noon every single day.
Maintaining a productive routine is a great way to ensure that you are ready to jump back into another position and perform to an incredibly high level.
- If you haven't already, try getting a gym membership.
Commit yourself to get up and go to the gym every single morning, which is a healthy habit to kick off your day in a productive manner.
You can get a head start on the day, then come home and continue your job search and/or accomplish other productive tasks.
- Use this time to develop new skills or build on skills you already have.
There are plenty of free online classes you can take to help develop and nurture your skills. Check out Coursera and Udemy, which both have interesting and useful classes and courses for free or at a low cost.
You can catch up on the latest finance, marketing, sales, engineering, or any other industry trend by taking a few classes.
Showing this initiative will impress potential employers and move you to the front of the pack.
There are even certificates you can earn after completing these courses!
It’s always nice to add relevant talents to your resume.
8. Perform charity work
Giving back to your community is one of the most important activities that you can perform as a citizen, especially an executive.
Taking time after you have been laid off to help out those less fortunate can make a difference in your happiness and perspective during this uncertain time.
Volunteer opportunities can also be a great way to network.
Never go into a charity or volunteer event with that expectation, but you never know who you could run into.
Helping out a nonprofit or other charitable business using your executive experience is another great way to build more experience and connections.
Businesses will be very grateful for your time and efforts.
If nothing directly comes from it, no big deal. The most important thing is putting good energy back into the universe.
9. Start your own business
Since you are a seasoned executive, you have the necessary experience and abilities to start whatever business you want.
As long as you have a solid business plan, you can bring your idea to fruition.
If you need financing, a bank may even be interested in financing your business.
- Starting a business can be more time consuming than an executive role.
- You have to wear many different hats that you are not experienced in.
- Talk to other business owners about how they started their business.
That networking is invaluable.
You can learn and understand if starting a business is for you.
Hey, you might end up getting a job offer as an executive if you talk to the right business owner.