The best time to prepare for job loss through redundancy or potential company closure is before you lose your job. The better prepared you are if and when that day comes, the easier it will be for you to cope with the challenges job loss brings.

As human beings, we tend to ignore the possibilities of crisis, and therefore, fail to prepare for troubled times. As a recruitment consultant, I see this every day. Many of the job candidates that walk into my office have been at their positions for years: their CVs are out of date and out of style, their skills no longer match what employers are currently demanding and they no longer know how to go about the best way to search for a job.

The best way to answer the challenge of the current labour market situation is to be proactive. This means:

    Maintain an up-to-date and up-to-style CV on hand at all times. This should be reviewed and updated yearly.
    Maintain your skills. If you are an administrative assistant, even if your company uses an older version of a particular computer programme, you should make sure to take classes on the latest version of popular programmes to ensure your skills remain current and relevant to other employers. I see this most frequently with Microsoft Office products.
    Stay on top of your company’s current economic situation. If your employer is a large company on the stock market, read their annual filings to monitor the health and long-term plans. If you are a small company, usually the water cooler scuttlebutt is an accurate reflection of the current situation. While rumours are just that – rumours – and should not be a cause for panic, they should alert you to the need to be prepared in case of company downsizing or closure.
    Always keep a vigilant eye out for better employment opportunities. Know which companies are doing well and which ones are hiring.

Maintaining a large network of professional contacts is also important. Today, there is a vast array of social and professional media sites to help you do this. Maintain and up-to-date presence on these sites. Not only does this help your professional image at your current employer, it will benefit you in the long run should your current position face redundancy.

Finally, prepare yourself mentally for the possibility. While we never like to think about these things, we all know that they happen to the best of people. Have an action plan outlined – on paper, if possible – so that you know the steps you will need to take if your job is eliminated. Being prepared is the key to survival.