By Caroline Levchuck, Yahoo! HotJobs
It's often easy to spot round of layoffs looming at your company: There's talk of mergers or acquisitions, belts are tightened, and hiring comes to a standstill. But how can you protect yourself in that situation?
A layoff can catch even the most seasoned professionals off guard. But some of these folks are able to take their job loss in stride. In fact, they may not even miss a beat. Why? Because they've bullet-proofed their professional lives. You can, too, with these four elements.
An Up-to-the-Minute Resume
The moment you're laid off, you're going to be chasing down new job leads, each of which will require you to furnish a resume. Your resume must be completely current and immediately available in several formats at all times. The morning after a layoff is no time to start figuring out how to paraphrase everything you've accomplished in your former job. You may be reeling with emotion (or even a bit hungover, if you drowned your sorrows in a beer or three) and unable to think clearly.
Remember, too, if you're laid off with a bunch of other folks from your company, you may be competing with them for each and every lead. In this case, the early bird will likely get the interview. Update your resume every month to make sure you're armed and ready for anything.
Six Months of Living Expenses
If you're laid off, you'll probably be eligible for unemployment insurance. However, even the maximum unemployment benefits may pale in comparison to your regular salary and could jeopardize your finances and your entire life.
Rather than panicking and accepting the first offer that comes your way, a small nest egg will allow you to make decisions based on what is best for your career in the long term rather than what's right for your wallet in the short term.
An Active Network
If you've let your network languish, most folks in it won't have too much sympathy when you look to cry on their shoulders and exploit their industry contacts. However, if you've been a good networker and an even better professional friend, the troops will be more likely to rally around you in your time of need, even making calls on your behalf and putting their reputation on the line to recommend you. Work your network every week, making sure you're helping others so that they'll be there to help you in a pinch.
A Backup Plan
Even the most stellar resume, supportive network and neat nest egg may not be enough for you to land a prime position in a timely manner. Having an alternate means of generating income in tough times will stave off feelings of financial and professional panic. Perhaps you have a much-coveted skill, such as accounting, childcare, welding, plumbing or programming that will help you land temporary positions to tide you over and help you feel productive. Seeking out these opportunities on a part-time basis may also allow you the time to continue to pursue your chosen profession.
Also, consider that if you cannot get the precise position you had, you may still get a position related to your former job. Keep your mind open to keep your options open.