An influx of companies is announcing layoffs and downsizing. The rationale for the decisions is due, in part, to economic and geopolitical events.
There was a huge pent-up demand for workers once the economy reopened, along with a surge in spending as people left their homes to dine out, shop in stores, attend events and travel.
The stock market boomed and everything looked rosy. Rising inflation, supply chain disruptions, the cost of everything increasing and threats of an escalation in the Russia and Ukraine war have struck fear in the hearts of corporate executives.
They started to think that perhaps they were too exuberant in their hiring and now feel the need to tap on the breaks, hold off on hiring and consider some layoffs to conserve capital.
This may all turn around soon for the better. However, if there are more layoffs and job freezes, here’s some advice from career experts on what people can do to be prepared for quickly engaging in a job search.
- Immediately begin to prepare.
- Know your transferable skills and your unique, differential advantage. Only here do you find true job security.
- Update your résumé with quantifiable, measurable benefits accomplished in the past 18 months.
- Refresh your LinkedIn profile capturing all of your upskilling, certificates and accomplishments. Make sure it’s complete and robust.
- Join LinkedIn groups and participate.
- Network. Network. Network.
I was recently told of a company president who bragged that 60% of their workforce were now contractors. This [was] after shrinking the workforce by thousands over time. He then went on to boast about the significant amount of healthcare dollars, benefits and other company savings.
His remaining employees now live in fear daily because of their new rolling layoff policy. At any time on any day, HR can show up at your cube, escort you to a conference room and let you go. No warning, personal improvement plan or feedback and little recourse.
We will all lose our jobs at some point in our careers.
Bottom Line: Always Be Prepared.
This is how it starts. First, there will be a freeze, then a salary-raise freeze during a performance review, then no yearly bonus, then eventually layoffs. I have been there.
Some companies will do [temporary] layoffs, should you wait? This is the time to lay off people who are not part of the tribe. Management issues, those who are change-resistant and those who speak up will be targeted. If you are paid a high salary, you are an easy target too.
Listen to water-cooler talks. Rumor mills might be true. There may be constructive dismissal. Do not sign any new job description because it will forfeit the previous responsibilities.
Proximity bias is real [and] face time is in dire need. Taking on extra tasks is a strategy to stick around, but be mindful of work-life balance. Anyone can go from office pet to threat. Keep an eye out!
Start reactivating relationships with people who left. Transfer all your reviews and documents to personal emails, including the job offer you have signed, if severance is not paid properly. Lawyers need to see job offers.
We’re headed for leaner staff in Q3 and Q4.
- I’ve already seen rumblings in the C-suite and the inevitable fallout after a favored leader exits.
- Recession is likely on the horizon, as the cycle of requests for wage increases, subsequent price increases and inflation needs to stop somewhere.
- Companies unable to hire shift funding to automation over payroll.
What can professionals do?
- Up the visibility of your contributions (self-advocate, show up, chip in).
- Build skills through online credentialing platforms or free coursework.
- Strengthen your career collateral (résumé, LinkedIn, profile, bios, letters).
- Consider a content strategy or social proof (LinkedIn, conferences, publishing, etc.)
- Engage with your network! Start spreading some goodwill, as it will be needed whether a layoff hits you or someone else in your network
I’m starting to see signs that the job-a-palooza party might be coming to an end. Now’s the time to get your career marketing collateral together, shore up your network and make sure you have closed the skills gap for any roles of interest should you be worried your job is at risk.
I suspect that when such high-profile employers, like Meta, Amazon, and Uber, institute freezes, even employers who are feeling confident start to wonder if those shops know something they don’t and produce a ripple effect.
But even if so, this doesn’t mean that no employer is hiring. Even in a down market, someone is making money, after all. And this goes to the importance of job seekers building a target list of preferred employers. Go after what you want, instead of simply spraying and praying.
There is another underlying trend that impacts the numbers. The alternative workforce, which includes freelancers, gig workers, contract and consultants, is now between 40% and 50%. This enables companies to still stay current and relevant, yet have the best available talent.
Unfortunately, what goes up almost always comes down. Now is the time to get ready. Don’t wait for the layoffs or cutbacks to be announced before putting a plan in place and getting your career tools prepared.
I don’t recommend moving or changing jobs if you like where you are, but be ready for the possibility that you may have to execute a search suddenly. It’s wise to always be ready—and always have a career management plan in place—but even more so if you are hearing rumors or feel uncertain in your current company.
This upcoming shift is a great reminder of why it’s so important to ‘dig your well before you’re thirsty,’ to quote the Harvey Mackay book from around the time of the dot-com bust, and connecting with your network and seeing how you can be helpful to others versus only reaching out when you need something from them.
The ‘music is still going’ and use this time to do all the things you need to do to land a job fast now. Build your network [and] refine your career marketing materials.
If you are sitting on the sidelines, get back in the game now before the hiring freezes and layoffs start.
Push the digits. Go through your address book and send around 20 to 30 emails per day to people that include friends, ex-colleagues, former headhunters you worked with, parents you chat with at the morning school drop off…basically anyone who knows your first name and can recognize your face in a police line. And use these exact words (adapt for style):
Hi [Insert Recipient’s Name],
I hope all is well! Not sure if you know, my employer [Company Name] is going through a massive reorganization, and unfortunately my position, along with hundreds of others, is likely being made redundant. So, I’ve recently started to look for a new challenge in the [your desired field] field and am reaching out to you to ask for your help with any leads or contacts. I am looking for a [your desired level and role] position in or near [Desired Location]. I am also open to an in-house opportunity for the right company and role. If you know of any job opportunities or leads that you might be able to share with me, please send them my way, it would really mean a lot to me. Below, I have included a list of my dream companies. I have also attached my résumé for your reference, and feel free to pass it along. Thanks in advance for your help! I hope you all are doing well and hope to catch up with you soon. Take care!
[Insert Your Name]
Those who care will respond immediately, and you’ll also find out who your real friends are! A one-liner follow-up from those you don’t hear back from would help too. Now, if you have dug your well before you’re thirsty, there will be plenty of fresh drinking water (opportunities) in your well (network). If you haven’t, outreach, outreach, outreach. No panic, just taking action.