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Marc Cenedella

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Create an Emergency Layoff Plan for Your Family

Families are prepared for a fire or hurricane. Take the same measures to ensure you’re also prepared for an emergency job loss.

By Darrell Gurney
FILED UNDER: Work Life Balance.
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Many families have an earthquake, hurricane or disaster plan, but how many have a layoff plan? A job loss is a time when the Earth unexpectedly moves from beneath your feet, so it should require the same preparation.

Though we’re living in a time of great upheaval in the American workforce, people are still unprepared for a layoff. “I knew my employer was having a tough time, but I didn’t think it would affect me!” is what many people still say when handed their pink slips. In January of this year, even amid the huge layoff numbers already posted, a study by Sausalito, Calif.-based Glassdoor.com showed that only one in five employees thought they might be laid off. Obviously, with the layoff statistics of 2009, these results suggest that people simply resist frightening facts.

Of course, living in the doom and gloom of “maybes” is not the answer, but just-in-case preparedness can give you a sense of peace — and power.

Here are a few points to consider to ensure you could handle a worst-case scenario:

1. Don’t avoid the void.
Thinking of a possible layoff can get you down, so most people avoid the discussion. Getting into the mindset of how you’ll deal with it, rather than the negativity surrounding it, will actually pick you up — because you’ll know you can handle whatever comes.

2. Know your mate’s job-loss mentality ahead of time.
The time to know how you can rely on your partner to share the load of raising a family is before you have one. Similarly, the time to know how you’ll both endure the stress of job loss is before it occurs. Does she actually love what she’s doing now? Would he want another job just like it? Or would an unexpected layoff give him the opportunity to go a different direction — or even start his own business? Discuss possible options before you’re faced with them.

3. Fortify your belief in one another.
If your partner loses her job, it can lower her self-esteem and that lowered esteem can impact the dynamics of the relationship (such as not being the provider). Though you can’t always know how someone will actually be affected unless and until it happens, earthquake-proofing your relationship for possible esteem shakeups can create a deeper connection when it counts. Work together to create an inventory of all the skills, talents and aptitudes you each possess, and remind each other of those truths — when you need it most.

4. Create a job-loss financial plan.
The scrambling and differing opinions about how to deal with finances when an unexpected layoff hits can create friction when you need to pull together the most. Come to an agreement about how you’d deal with the loss of income, what things would take priority and to what degree either of you could hang on for the “right job” before just accepting any offer. Plan ahead to make the most of stretched resources.

5. Create a job-loss emergency checklist.
Agree on what rules will be followed in the case of an actual job loss. Think about everything from:

  • hours to be spent in the job search
  • getting out of the house
  • communication strategies
  • exercise program

Helping each other to be effective while keeping family life stable will go a long way toward a peaceful household in a time of transition.

Darrell W. Gurney, executive/career coach and 15-year recruiting veteran, supports folks to make profitable transitions or create thriving businesses. Author of "Headhunters Revealed!" and a personal- and business- brand strategist, his Backdoor Method for networking has helped individuals expand careers and new client circles. Listen to his interview of best-selling "What Color is Your Parachute?" author Richard Nelson Bolles at www.CareerGuy.com/program

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