Project Practitioners > How to Survive a Layoff: A Project Plan

How to Survive a Layoff: A Project Plan

By Laura Erkeneff

A friend called me two days ago and announced that he, along with 600 other employees, has been laid off from the company where he's worked the last 12 years. My aunt called to let me know that my cousin had been cut from a full-time job with benefits to 40% time, hourly pay and no benefits. These are intelligent, professional people who are hard workers and top performers. Last night on the evening news an economist projected that in California alone, one million - that's ONE MILLION - people will be laid off in 2009. And the problem isn't limited to us; the entire world is dealing with this economic crisis. Let's hope the economist are wrong, especially since they have been wrong about everything else so far... 

But, just in case it is as dire as they say, how about developing a project plan to deal with the terrible reality of a layoff? The Project Connections website has hundreds of thousands of the best project managers on the globe. I would like to outline the basics of what might be in a Layoff Survival Project Plan and hear from our amazing subscribers what they might have learned from their experience in similar situations. I think together we can develop a project plan that just might be the best on the planet for dealing with this crisis.

Why develop a project plan for a layoff? Because researchers from the Employment Development Department have found that the people who act quickly to get back into the workforce get jobs 50% faster than those who take a break. And, those that have a plan, develop goals, track their progress and adjust their goals, get jobs a whopping 75% faster! So, let's get those rears in gear and move it!

We'll develop our plan using the typical project phases. Here goes:

Concept and Selection: 
Purpose: To outline the tools, resources, advice, and support necessary to survive unemployment and get new employment, while staying sane and growing professionally. 

 This will need to be done individually since it is so personal in nature. Things to consider: What is your definition of employment? Is it a level of income, a specific profession or trade? Working independently or working for a company? What is sane for you? Not kicking the dog? Not taking it out emotionally on others? 

Evaluate: Again, what are your personal measures? Time, money, prestige of employment may all be considerations. Sanity evaluations can range from containing your emotional outbursts with close family and friends to not babbling in the supermarket aisle about the rising food costs.

Select: What will be the best goals and milestones to track? Do you start by talking to your mortgage company about a rate change?  Make a list of other financial arrangements that need to be in place during your employment search? Cancel cable or dish TV? What level of precautions will allow you to feel proactive about your finances and stretch the budget?  

Are there free classes you can attend to help you polish up your resume and interviewing skills? How good are you at networking in person? How is your "social media network"? Are you on Linked In, Plaxo, etc? Can you partner with a friend to attend some professional meetings and share job leads? (If there are readers out there that have a list of what they have done, post it to share with others.)

Assign priorities to the lists of tasks, resources, skills, workshops/classes, networking options, social media, etc., developed above.

Announce: Have you announced your job search to others? Have you gained support from major "sponsors" and mentors? Do you have your recommendations in writing and visible on your social/professional media? Since everyone is going through the crisis - it's important not to be too embarrassed or ashamed to tap into the vast resources all around us. Embarrassment can lead to fear and can block you from reaching out. Remember that you are not alone in this mess!

Well, I think you get the idea. Even though you may not have looked for a job in many years, you can develop and follow a project plan. Project Planning is your expertise and you can use it for this crisis in your life, too. I believe that the biggest reason for the success of the people in the study I mentioned above was not just the plan itself, but their ability to logically conquer their fear by writing out a plan on paper. The plan then allowed them to regain the confidence that losing a job can take away from a person. The project plan allows you to get back to your expertise, keep your skills sharp by applying them to a project in real time and using them to your own advantage.

OK, now that I have us started, l would love to hear your ideas for our Layoff Survival Project Plan. What has worked (or is working) for you in your job searches? And, please, put it in the Project Plan Phases so we practice our skills. Thanks a million and I look forward to learning from each one of you.

Related Links
The last time we went through a downturn, Carl Pritchard outlined how to consult your way to a new job. Kimberly Wiefling recommends making sure your priorities, goals, and actions are all aligned to ensure project and personal success.

Not all comments are posted. Posted comments are subject to editing for clarity and length.

People always hate to talk about when they are laid off. But as it has become every day's news headline since Yahoo started it with cutting 1500 of its task force last year, now a need of platform has been in demand where people can express their selves in words how they are feeling about their company, whey the got laid off was that justified or not.
And every thing they want to tell anonymously.And is providing you that platform.

The key is to survive the layoff by keeping the impact as low as possible. I have been through at least 3 layoff in my 20 year career and personally I feel that it the best way to ride this wave is to be prepared for the extreme . I firmly believe in the Murphy ’s Law especially the 3rd one, " Whatever can go wrong will go wrong, and at the worst possible time, in the worst possible way”

if any one interested in a no-nonsense game of “layoff survival” check out , a fun way to see different options to survive layoff.

Thanks for the tip on the "Layoff survival" game. I found it is a great way to learn a few skills in an amusing way. It is a great way to pass the time when the body needs down time but the mind won't stop.

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