I’ll never forget my first day back at work after my honeymoon. The company president’s secretary said that he wanted to sit down and talk to me. I was completely confused. All I could think was, “Why does he want to talk to me? Maybe to give me a wedding present?!” Yeah, some wedding present. It turned out he had decided to eliminate the entire marketing department while I was away. And I got to go home to my brand new husband and give him the news of my first layoff.
I recovered pretty well from that experience. It was in 1998, the economy was pretty strong, and I had good skills that enabled me to find work quickly. But now ten years later, the job outlook for a rebounding employee isn’t quite the same. And layoffs are becoming all too common.
As an entrepreneur, I’ve found myself in similar predicaments when I had all of my eggs in one basket. After getting burned one too many times, I’ve spent the last two years putting lots of eggs in many baskets. And it’s certainly paying off right now. Here are five things I’ve done to keep my finances afloat no matter where I’m working or what happens with the economy:1. Stay on Top of Networking
Many people I know only make a conscious effort to network when they need a job. Honestly, the worst time to make the connections you need is after you need them. If there are jobs to be had, they are going to go to the most highly recommended candidates. Often, great jobs aren’t posted publicly.
Whether you get out to luncheons, volunteer with professional associations, or even stay on top of your Facebook and LinkedIn connections, you should make a habit of networking on a regular basis.2. Take on Side Projects
This isn’t always easy to do when you are in a full time position. But if you can manage just one or two freelance projects a year, you are going to be much better positioned than those who haven’t. While ideally it would be best to find paid consulting or freelance gigs, even volunteer projects are beneficial to your career. If you get laid off, your old clients will be your first avenues to picking up work. 3. Start a Side Business
Again, this isn’t a great option for the time-challenged. But it is also the best safety net you can create for yourself. Blogging, affiliate marketing, eBay selling, and direct sales with companies like Pampered Chef offer extreme flexibility while helping you to build a second mini-career. Many people even find that their side business can become full-time businesses with persistence and patience.
4. Be a Constant Learner
If your company offers training or tuition reimbursement, take advantage of it as often as possible. The investment they’ve made in you might be a deciding factor in whether they lay off you or someone else in the department. If you don’t have these opportunities at work, you should take it upon yourself to keep your skills up to date and learn new technologies. The more you know, the more marketable and valuable you are to a company.
5. Have Two to Three Recruiters in Your Network
As a former recruiter, I can’t recommend this more highly. When positions open up, the first people who come to mind get first crack at the job. Be sure to meet and stay in touch with recruiters who are in your industry. Also, maintain and distribute your resume even when you aren’t looking for a new position. Another tip: make sure you use plenty of good keywords for your skills and experience in your resume. It’s a sure-fire way to stand out from the crowd.