What to Do If You're Afraid of Being Fired

If you hear -- or are told outright -- by your employer that some jobs have to go and yours "might" be one of them, what can you do about it?
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The Dreaded Downsizing

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Be prepared in the event of
firings and layoffs.

Losing one's job is a worrying prospect for many who rely on their regular income to cover mortgages, car loans, school fees, food bills, and all the other expenses of living. What you can do about it depends on the size of the company you work for, your skill level and experience, where you live, the status of employment in your area, and other factors. If you are afraid of being fired, there are steps you can take, so first let's take a look at being laid off.

  1. Get the Truth
    Find out first if your job is on the firing line. You may be worrying for nothing. Don't just ask other employees -- they may merely repeat rumors and gossip. Either have a confidential chat with your immediate manager, or make an appointment with the human resources manager. There's no point "worrying" unless you have to.
  2. Use Your Contacts
    If your job is in jeopardy, depending on your current role, you may be able to put yourself in a position of availability to "headhunters" from other companies. Make contact with people in other organizations and ask about job possibilities, or you can contact the human resources managers of other companies and ask them if it is worthwhile submitting your resumé. If you are a member of an association, it's time to network. Let it be known among those in positions to help you that you are in need of a new position...but be discreet.
  3. Update Your Resumé
    Don't leave it until the bell tolls before you start sending out job applications and your resumé. What if you are not going to "lose your job" for another three months, but it takes three to six months before you find another one? Can you afford to wait that long? Start applying now. If you find a job quickly, whether you see out your remaining time with your existing employer or not will depend on whether your "new" employer is prepared to wait. It's hard when you have feelings of loyalty to your existing employer, but if they are planning to get rid of you soon...right now you need to be looking out for yourself.
  4. Know Your Entitlements
    If you are staying until the end, make sure you know your entitlements. What settlement is the company offering you? Have you received a termination agreement with everything set out? If in doubt, have it checked by a professional. You have legal recourse if the company does not pay you what you are entitled to under your agreement with them and state and federal laws, and even union rules (if applicable to you) governing such things as redundancy packages. In addition to this, find out if you are eligible for any government unemployment benefits -- in case you need them.
  5. Get References Before You Go
    Make sure you get references before you leave the company. You will need them.

Continued on page 2:  Other Factors


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