Pattie Hunt Sinacole advises on how to respond to company layoffs

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Q:  I am worried about my job.  My company is reducing staff.  I think we are in an industry that is shrinking.  Without revealing too much, it is an industry which includes equipment for the home.  During the pandemic, we could not keep up with the demand.  Now it is softening.  What should I do?

A: I am sorry to hear that you are fearful of losing your job.  You must be stressed and anxious, which would be expected.  Here are the steps I would take right now:

  1. Update your resume.  Make sure it includes relevant experience and contemporary skills.
  2. Network with professional contacts, friends and family.  Throughout your career, this is a good practice.  ABYN is an acronym that I use.  Always build your network.  If you are on LinkedIn, I suggest adding up to five new contacts per week, even if you are not looking for a new job.
  3. Join industry groups on LinkedIn.  Maybe you are a sales person, join a group related to sales people.  Maybe you live in Boston, if so join a job seekers group in Boston.
  4. Connect with your alumni association.  Often times alumni groups have social events, job boards and other job seeking events.  It is worthwhile to reach out to your alumni association, whether you are 25 years old or 45 years old.
  5. Practice self-care.  Meditate, exercise and continue to engage in social activities.  Isolation can lead to more anxiety and even depression.
  6. Review your finances.  Are you able to cut down on certain expenditure?  Maybe you need to walk your dog, instead of continuing with a gym membership.  Maybe you need to pay down credit cards, while you have an income.  Maybe you need to check your emergency savings account.
  7. Gather your personal belongings which may be at work.  Photos of your kids, your favorite coffee mug or a picture of Boston should all be removed.
  8. Remember not to burn bridges.  If you are laid off, and are asked to leave the building, do so in a professional manner.  Be quiet and gracious.
  9. If you have not been given a letter or severance agreement, ask for one.  Don’t sign anything.  If you are offered severance, review it, but don’t sign an agreement.  Take it home and read it more carefully.  Think about negotiating for more severance or benefits continuation.
  10. COBRA is very expensive.  If you have the option, consider joining a plan offered through your spouse or partner.

Finally, don’t take this job loss as a personal attack.  It is a strong employment market.  The unemployment rate in Massachusetts is currently around 3%, which is very low.  You may have several job offers within weeks.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.