4 ways to prepare for a layoff

Getty ImagesGetty ImagesA few days ago, I got an email from a friend -- yet another -- who told me that he had just been laid off from his journalism job. The job losses in our field are so huge that there is at least one website entirely devoted to tracking the loss of journalism jobs day by day.

My friend wrote that he wished he had done some planning before the ax had fallen, and he is not the only one feeling that way. Many people are in situations where they know layoffs are a possibility, yet they do little to prepare themselves.

Here's a few suggestions I would have given to my friend had he called me before he got his official notice. But it's not too late. These things still make sense once a layoff is official.

Go to the doctor. Even though COBRA (the federal law that allows unemployed workers to pay to continue the same health insurance provided by their employers) is available to certain employees, many people who are unemployed cannot afford COBRA and opt for a cheaper no-frills plan. Others are not even eligible for COBRA. Which means that you and any family members on your policy will want to get doctor visits out of the way while you have good coverage.

Get your resume ready. To be prepared for sharing your resume in different ways, have it ready in a PDF version for printing, a Word document for emailing, and an unformatted text document for pasting into online search forms. If you work in a field where samples of your work are important, make sure to have any samples you want to include in a portfolio to scan for your web site. And if your work would benefit from an online, multimedia presentation, consider using VisualCV.com, a free service which functions as a combination resume and website.

Review your finances. If you can sock away some money for the emergency fund, do it. Also, think about where you can cut expenses. The larger your financial cushion, the more relaxed you will be about your job search, and you will have more leeway to choose to continue searching rather than jump at the first offer you receive.

Build your presence on Linkedin.
LinkedIn serves many functions for job seekers. It can be your contact list. It can be your resume. And it can help you find people beyond your immediate network that might help you in your search. Many people join LinkedIn, put up a cursory profile, and then think the networking and job searching will magically happen. But LinkedIn can only help you if you take advantage of what it has to offer. Completely fill out your profile. Request recommendations from people you have worked with. And upload your contacts and start building your network. Once you've done these things, you are ready to take advantage of the site. If you're new to LinkedIn and or are not yet using it in a job search, here is an excellent primer on how to use LinkedIn to find a job.

If you've ever been laid off, what do you wish you had done before it happened?