Recently, a former client of mine anxiously called me. Her present employer of two years had begun restructuring. Some staff and a manager had already been laid-off. The company rumour mill said that her job was next. Understandably, she asked my advice on how to handle the rumours.
Unfortunately, job security is an on-going concern in today’s labour market regardless of any imminent threat. Taking these important steps will give you a plan and a sense of control in your career.
Clarify the situation.
My first suggestion to my client was to reach out to her supervisor and address the issue directly. This private conversation allows you to ask if changes are coming? How would those changes affect my position? What can I do to protect my job?
In situations like this, be prepared for vague responses. Management are often asked to keep such details confidential, or have not been provided with the details. It may be that various manager positions will also be affected. In my client’s case, her manager did not deny the rumours but did not have any details. However, my client was reassured that her performance was not an issue and was encouraged to continue to do her best.
Opening up communication with your manager will put the rumours into context and reinforce your commitment to your company. If you work in a unionized position, in addition to your manager, you can also approach your union representative about the rumours. Your goal at this stage is to understand the nature of what may be happening.
Create a back up plan.
If you find that rumours of company restructuring are true, consider this advanced notice as an advantage. While you still don’t know if your position will be affected, you can take positive action with a back up plan. I advised my client to update her resume, review and update her LinkedIn profile, and discreetly gather references. At this point, you may want to invest in upgrading any outdated skills. For example, my client discovered that her software skills are outdated and she decided to pursue a Salesforce training course in the evenings.
During times of uncertainty, and while you’re still working, take these proactive steps:
- Update your resume
- Review and revise your LinkedIn profile
- Review and gather your references
- Consider updating outdated skills
You may consider starting a job search to see how competitive the job market is. This will give you a sense of job vacancies earning potential, and what updated skills you will need to be more employable. Of course, employers prefer employed candidates, so if you feel you are at risk during a company restructuring, you can take this opportunity to look for work while you are still working. Taking action will ease your mind during uncertainty in the workplace.
Evaluate your finances.
Examine your financial situation. Figure out whether you be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) if you were laid off, how much you might be able to collect, and whether you could live on that income. That will help you decide when to start a job search. Keep in mind that if you find a new job while you are working, even if you have received a lay-off notice, resign the job, you will not be eligible for EI or a severance package.
If you are laid off…
During a lay-off, you will be given notice, usually through a meeting and a letter, outlining your termination notice. This is outlined in the Employment Standards Act of Ontario, and for unionized positions, in the Collective Agreement between the union and the company. This will outline what you are eligible for in terms of notice, pay in lieu, vacation pay and other benefits. Your employer will issue you a Record of Employment, that will indicate the reason you left the company. You will need this to apply for Employment Insurance. This is also the time to gather reference letters from your current employer.
Importantly, work as hard as you can to end your job on positive terms. The benefits of this are especially important for your job search by informing the next employer that, despite being laid off, you have a positive relationship with your former team members.