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Never fear another layoff

Layoffs are heart-breaking and difficult for everyone involved. But, it doesn't have to be something you fear.

Jacob Orshalick

My first layoff experience was in college. As an intern my department got eliminated when the telecom bubble burst.

The experience opened my eyes to the limits of the comfort zone called a job. There was no safe haven, so I'd better stop pretending.

I never wanted to fear another layoff. I wanted to be prepared for anything. Here's how I did it:

Be honest with yourself

Start by honestly assessing where you're at in your career:

  • Are you employable?
  • Have your skills stayed current?
  • Are you continuing to grow?

If you don't like what you see, create an action plan to fix it. You are responsible for your own career.

Get out of your comfort zone

The comfort zone is our safe haven. But, if you read nearly any self help guide, the message is clear. Staying in our comfort zone impedes our growth.

Transfer to that new project with the new technology. Take the time to learn new technologies on your own. Start building a product you think you could sell. Learn, write about it, present, contribute, rinse, repeat.

Put the work in

Success in your career, your relationships, everything important in life, comes from putting in the work. Those who are willing to go the extra mile will always have a leg up on everyone else.

I've competed in two IronMan races. Every single time someone finds out, they tell me the same thing. I could never do that. My response is always the same. That's bullshit. Unless you have a true physical limitation, anyone can do it if they're just willing to put the work in.

I had never done a triathlon. I had never swam laps in a pool. I'd never ridden a bike further than 8 miles when I started. A friend of mine suggested we try it and after a year and a half of daily training, we both completed our first race. I read and listened to a lot of David Goggins along the way.

When you're at your job, give it your all. This doesn't mean you have to work 80 hours a week, but don't be lazy. Stay off social media at work, limit the socializing, get it done.

Never stop interviewing

Interviewing is a skill, just like anything else. You don't have to take interviews every day or even every week. But, setting up at least a monthly phone screen or in-person interview will help keep your skills sharp.

Interviewing also helps you understand what you want in a job and what skills are in-demand. You'll encounter different types of teams, technologies, ways of working, personalities... You may realize you love the job you have or decide you want to make a change.

Don't burn any bridges along the way by stringing a company along, but it never hurts to test the waters. Who knows, you may find your dream job along the way. To get those interviews...

Build a professional online presence

You may have seen your LinkedIn feed explode with posts over the past few months from those who have been impacted by the layoffs. My heart goes out to all of them. But, if you pay close attention, you'll notice that those who have curated their online presence over the years have received significant responses and offers to help.

Maintaining an online presence increases your exposure to potential opportunities. Even if you love what you're doing and plan to never change, you want to be able to reach out to those who can help if the need arises. Which brings up my next tip...

Keep networking

My network has been invaluable to me in finding opportunities over the years. 95% of the opportunities I've had have come from my network. I try to reach out to at least 2 previous or new contacts every week.

This ensures that I'm actively building new connections and continuing to stay on the radar of those I've worked with in the past. If an opportunity comes up in their organization, they are much more likely to think of me if we spoke recently.

Always connect with those you meet on LinkedIn and keep up with your connection requests. While it can be annoying sifting through the requests that are just trying to sell you something, it's easy enough to ignore the noise. The long-term payoff is worth it.

Believe in yourself

It may be cliche, but you can do it. Believing in yourself is confidence, and that confidence shines through. It's something everyone is naturally attracted to.

Confidence will help you sell your ideas to others, land jobs, get promotions, and generally feel better about yourself. But, it's not free.

So remember...

No one is going to be confident in their job search when:

  • they've been doing the minimum necessary to get by at their job
  • their skills are outdated
  • they haven't interviewed in years
  • they have a resume that looks unimpressive
  • they have no network to fall back on

You have my guide. Use it. I promise you, you will never fear another layoff.

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Jacob Orshalick