You Own Your Career Now

Dear Liz,

I’ve survived two rounds of layoffs but I’m worried about the next one. I don’t have a lot of interaction with my manager or any opportunity whatsoever to affect sales or cost savings. What can I do to help my chances of not being laid off this time? I am worried to death about losing my job.




Dear Jeremy,

It’s a horrible feeling, hoping the RIF sword passes overhead without touching you. It’s not healthy for you, physically or emotionally, to live like that. On top of that, there is no sure way to dodge a layoff. Meetings are taking place in conference rooms around the world, in Hong Kong and Philadelphia and Baton Rouge, that affect you and me and every other working person. It is pointless to fret and stress about the continual corporate machinations that go on around us. Praying that we aren’t affected by  an unknown committee’s organizational decision is a hopeless, no-win proposition. Preparing for whatever may come down the pike is a much smarter and more empowered way to go.

I’d be kicked out of the imaginary Guild of Proactive Career Advisors if I coached you on how to survive a layoff. What’s so great about surviving a layoff, anyway? Any job security you will ever have, Jeremy, won’t come from any employer. You’ll carry it around with you, the way opera singers carry their instruments with them wherever they go. Our only job security these days is our own marketability. You won’t improve that by sticking around at the same job for another six months or two years, worrying yourself sick over impending layoffs or reorgs or what have you. You can own your career progress. In fact, you must!

Get ready for the future, Jeremy, starting right now. You can begin by deciding what you’d do if you weren’t working at the current job. What are you really good at, and what do you love to do? You don’t have to stay in same function or industry you’re in right now. You get to decide. Once you’re clear on your strengths and the work you love, use career sites like, and to see which of your talents employers are most in need of right now. You’ll get a confidence boost just by reading the job boards. You don’t need this particular, current employer. There are zillions of employers who can use what you bring!

When we are jarred by an unexpected event like an impending headcount reduction, it’s easy to go into a reactive, panic mode. We think: I can’t lose this job! But people lose jobs every day, and they survive and then they thrive. You have a jump on the situation. You can get your job search engine up and running, right now, while you’re working.

Over the next week, get a great LinkedIn profile up, and then start networking like crazy. Get out for one coffee, breakfast or lunch meeting a week, minimum. Put together a strong, human-voiced resume that conveys your talents and your accomplishments. Your confidence will grow as you put your job-search toolkit together. Don’t hunker down and spend your emotional energy hoping for something (another layoff) not to happen. That’s a waste of precious career mojo that could be fueling your next career adventure.

Above all, Jeremy, if you happen to stick around in your current job, don’t go to sleep career-wise until the next layoffs happen. Spring into action, my friend. You’ve got the keys to the rest of your career, and no employer will ever care as much about your future as you do. Don’t leave your career in anyone’s hands except your own, from this minute forward.


Categories Career Advice