At some point in your career you may find yourself in a job situation that feels less than secure. Perhaps the industry’s experiencing a downturn and there have been layoffs in your organization or perhaps you just feel unsuited to the job and out of touch with your manager.
Whatever the case, the last thing you want to do is sit back and wait to be fired. With a little planning now, you can hopefully soften the financial and emotional blow that comes with losing your job. Here are some steps you can take to mitigate the damage.
Consider Your Finances
Your first priority is making sure that you and your family are financially ready to weather a job loss. It may be difficult to know exactly when the axe is coming down, but whether it’s in a couple of weeks or a few months, you need to reassess your budget and cut any unnecessary spending, including luxury food items, entertainment and any other discretionary items.
As rough as it sounds, this could also include things like gym memberships, cable subscriptions and even music lessons for the kids. If you’re unsure how long it will take you to find a new job, you should be putting that money directly into an emergency fund in case all other income sources are exhausted. Remember it’s only temporary, until you find another job.
If possible, try to pay off any debts and make sure that you investigate your options for health care coverage after you leave your job. COBRA enables many employees to keep their job-based health coverage for a period of time. There are also options listed on Healthcare.gov.
Start Looking for Something Else
In the best-case scenario, you’d read the writing on the wall early, step into high gear and secure a new job before losing your current one. That way, you’d save a lot of unpleasantness for everyone and avoid the problem of having to explain to future employers why you were fired.
Without being too blatant, start to put out those feelers now and try to discretely ask around about job openings at other companies. Consider joining professional associations to network and hear about opportunities in your industry.
Get your references in order and clean up your current social media profiles. Update your resume and start posting it anonymously to online job sites.
Get Your Personal Things in Order
Losing your job makes you feel vulnerable enough, you don’t need the added stress of wondering if the company’s IT guy is reading your personal emails. Remember that the computer is company property and that whatever is left on there is fair game. So be sure to delete or transfer any files from your work computer that you want to keep or prevent anyone from seeing.
You might also want to secure work samples to show future employers since you might not have the opportunity once you’re fired (as long as you’re not violating your employment agreement by doing this). Make sure you also have contact information for any colleagues, vendors, or clients who you want to reach out to after you’re gone.
Avoid Being a Sitting Duck
If you feel that a termination is inevitable, you could try and discuss a transition plan that could benefit both you and the employer. For instance, if your supervisor is willing to work with you and your relationship warrants it, you could propose that you stay on for a given amount of time until you find another job. In the meantime, you could tie up any loose ends and help to train a new person.
By beating your boss to the punch, you spare him the uncomfortable task of letting you go while avoiding the burden of having to explain to future employers why you were fired. Perhaps you can still salvage a good recommendation from your employer, and best of all, you can avoid being out of work altogether.
If they want you out sooner rather than later, reconsider before you voluntarily sign a resignation. Instead try to negotiate a satisfactory severance package. If all else fails, there’s always unemployment insurance to fall back on.
Even when a termination is not your fault, it’s never easy to hear somebody say that you’re no longer needed. Go easy on yourself and remember that some of the best, brightest and most successful people—from Steve Jobs to J.K. Rowling—have been terminated from a job. Try not to be bitter or hostile. Leave on a classy note. And don’t take it personally. In the long run, it’s only a bump in the road.