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July 5, 2012

A friend of mine, let’s call him Bob, recently was laid off from a nonprofit organization with virtually no notice.  The board of the nonprofit decided to restructure the organization one day and the next day was Bob’s last day. Quite shocking to be sure. It got me thinking a lot about how best to prepare yourself after losing your job.

Today I want to point you to an excellent webinar by J.T. O’Donnell, career coach and founder of the career blog, CAREEREALISM entitled, 5 Ways to Leverage a Layoff. In this informative webinar, Ms. O’Donnell provides some very helpful information to keep in mind as you begin to focus on the job search ahead. She explains how when you lose your job unexpectedly you can often go through many of the same emotional stages as if you lost a loved one. Think about it, our identity is very often closely linked to our job. If you don’t have time to view the lengthy webinar, check out this short article by the same author entitled, Layoff Advice: 4 Steps to Take Right After the Axe Falls.

What about severance?  Will you or won’t you get any severance pay? Here is a handy article by Alison Doyle with lots of tips about what to expect when it comes to severance packages from About.com. The general rule of thumb is one week of pay per year of continuous service to the company. However, it is not always the case and you should not count on it.

In the aftermath of a lay off it is good to remember that “this too shall pass” and try to be open to new opportunities. You may be surprised to discover you could end up in a better situation. Stranger things have happened.

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I watched a somewhat silly movie over the weekend called Weathergirl (indie romantic comedy, if you are curious). I won’t ruin it for you, but the story follows the tale of a weathergirl who loses her cool during a broadcast and basically commits career suicide. On the day of the infamous broadcast, it is clear the main character didn’t expect to be so brash. Obviously the situation was exaggerated for the benefit of the movie.  However, the episode did bring to mind the question: can you really prepare to be fired or laid off?!

In this job market, with increasing downsizing, mergers, and even company closures, this is a topic that tends to be top of mind for many employees. Nonprofit organizations are not immune to these economic realities either, especially when many nonprofits receive the bulk of their budgets from city, county, state or federal government funding sources. Times are still tough and job security is not a given even when you work for a nonprofit.

Whether your job seems safe for now, or you have good reason to believe you might be losing your job, it is always good to be prepared.  We are often judged most harshly at our weakest hour. In preparation for just such a situation, I recommend you read this enlightening blogpost by Employment Attorney Alan Sklover, Here’s What to do if you are Laid Off…or  You Will Soon Be.      I hope you won’t need to use this advice, but better safe than sorry.