How to prepare in case of a job loss

The string of tech companies laying off workers has accelerated in the last month, worrying those with and without jobs.

In continuation of our series, “What to do in a bear market,” Yahoo Finance asked career experts how employees and job seekers can best position themselves during an economic downturn.

What are some pointers for people who are actively looking for a job right now?

“For those who are actively looking for work right now – whether laid off recently, or looking to make a change to get more of the benefits they prioritize, like flexibility, etc. – it’s important to stand out to hirers and to your network, to be first in line for job openings, and to lead with skills,” LinkedIn Career Expert Blair Heitmann told Yahoo Finance.

“It’s also important to remember that while a layoff might feel personal, it’s not – instead, it’s a reflection that the company’s business outlook has changed. Try to keep this in mind as you embark on your job search, and let the confidence and skills that helped you land that job power your next steps,” she added.

Here are some other pointers Heitmann recommends:

  • Turn on LinkedIn’s Open to Work feature. Members using the #OpenToWork photo frame are on average 40% more likely to receive InMails from recruiters, and 20% more likely to receive messages from the LinkedIn community.

  • Set up job alerts. Being one of the first to apply to a job can give you an extra edge — LinkedIn data shows you’re 4x more likely to hear back about a position if you apply in the first 10 minutes.

  • Tap your network. On LinkedIn, you can now see who’s hiring in your network — and your network’s network — when you visit the Jobs tab, and you will be notified when people in your first or second degree network are hiring.

LinkedIn Open to Work frame

What’s the best way to update your profile to get noticed?

“Your profile photo is your virtual handshake, and a simple way for your friends, colleagues or former classmates to recognize and discover you on LinkedIn. Make sure your profile photo embodies who you are as a professional, but also makes you approachable and shows a bit of your personality,” notes Heitmann of LinkedIn.

“Also, consider adding a Profile Video as a way to share more about yourself, your passions and career goals in an engaging way. Almost 80% of hiring managers in the US believe seeing a pre-recorded video of a job seeker would be useful,” she added.

What’s the best way to network?

“Networking all the time, even when you’re not looking for a job is the best strategy,” according to career coach Liz Rubin.

“Find the discipline and energy to nurture your network on a daily basis. Don’t be surprised if you don’t get a reply if you are reaching out only when you need a job. People may feel used and imposed upon,” said Rubin.

“Aside from an updated resume and LinkedIn page, your network is your biggest source of leads. Engage with people who know you and let them know you are in the market. Do not rely on search firms and job ads. Start going to events and conferences where you share common interests both work and non work related. You never know where your next employer will be,” said Rubin.

The tech space has been hit pretty hard recently. How should tech workers position themselves?

“Engage in the market but read your audience,” says Rubin.

“If you’re speaking to an HR person who doesn’t understand the tech space you need to make sure that you can effectively speak about your accomplishments in a way that she or he can understand. What problems have you solved and can you talk about them in a clear non-technical language that anyone can understand,” she added.

“Think about companies in other industries that need your technical skills and reach out to them and stay focused on business problems that you might solved,” added Rubin.

What if you have a job but are worried about a potential job loss?

“The good news is, that despite the hiring slowdown, there are still job opportunities available, and even more so if you’re open to going into an office – new LinkedIn data just out shows that there are nearly two on-site openings for every applicant looking for on-site work in the US,” said Heitmann of LinkedIn.

She recommends several ways to prepare ahead of a potential job loss.

  • Demonstrate the scope and scale of your expertise by updating your LinkedIn profile with your latest experiences and skills. Skills have become more important than ever in landing opportunities today, with more than 40% of hirers on LinkedIn explicitly using skills data to fill their roles.

  • Keep your network warm. Your professional network is your most important asset over the course of your career – tending to it like a garden.

  • Think through your next steps. Workers should also begin to evaluate what their ideal next role would be, and outline a plan going forward. Know what you want in your job, especially where you want to work, and look for those jobs using search filters, like Hybrid and Remote Filters on LinkedIn, to find jobs that match your needs.

How much emergency funds should you have in case of a layoff?

“A few months’ worth of expenses is a solid starting goal for an emergency fund (or more, if you have dependents). It will buy you crucial time to line up your next gig without worrying about keeping a roof over your head,” Mandi Woodruff-Santos recently wrote in Yahoo Finance column.

She also recommends developing an independent source of income.

“Having additional sources of income other than a 9-to-5 paycheck is a form of emergency savings that few workers think about. If you’re already doing a bit of freelance work or consulting on the side, you don’t have to start from scratch if your employer decides to give you the boot. Think about what skills or talents you have that you could potentially monetize and start sooner rather than later,” said Woodruff-Santos.

Ines is a markets reporter covering stocks from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Follow her on Twitter at @ines_ferre

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