man in anguishSometimes, there are signals when the loss of your job is imminent. Some of these are strong signals — your company is bought or merged into another company (if there is a lot of duplication in job titles or functions within both companies, the acquiring company’s employees will be the ones to most likely stay.)  Another strong signal when your company loses a major client or the industry as a whole faces a crisis. An economic downturn may make you wonder if your job is safe. And don’t ignore the company grapevine. Anytime you hear rumors of layoffs, there is often a grain of truth to the tale. And then there’s times when you might be having a clash of personalities with your boss. On a related note, anytime you get a new boss, beware.

Other times, you may not have an inkling that there is trouble in the company. The writing may not be on the wall, and you may be fired “out of the blue.” In hindsight, you realize you had started to be left out of key decisions or meetings. Or some of your workload had been shifted to other employees. But the changes were subtle. You can see them now, but you didn’t see them at the time.

If you’re worried about losing your job, but you haven’t yet been fired, here are seven things you should do to prepare:

1.   Create or update your LinkedIn profile, but be careful about doing too much at once while you’re still employed. It looks suspicious if you go from a new profile to having 200 new connections in a week. Be mindful of your privacy settings. Change the setting for notifications so that your network doesn’t get notices when you update information on your profile.

2.   Lock down your privacy settings on all your social media accounts, especially Facebook. Be especially mindful of your posts. Don’t post anything negative about your current job. (Even with your privacy settings at the maximum, anyone who is friends with you can take a screenshot of your post and share it with anyone else.) You don’t want to give anyone a reason to fire you.

3.   Update your resume. Getting a head start on collecting the information for the resume will help you if you do get fired or laid off. It may also give you a 2-3 week head start on your colleagues who haven’t kept their career marketing documents up to date.

4.   Start depersonalizing your office, but take things home gradually so that it’s not apparent that you’re removing items. Also, collect the information you’ll need for your resume while you still have access to your company records. (For example, dates and names of trainings, copies of performance evaluations, sales records, etc.)

5.   Check out your company’s employee handbook and/or your employment agreement with the company to find out what’s owed to you. What is the company policy on accrued — but unused — benefits? Are you entitled to cash out unused vacation time, or is it “use it or lose it?” Also review the section that outlines what constitutes “termination for cause.”

6.   Tighten your belt (financially speaking). Are there expenses you can cut out for the time being? (Services you’re not using, subscriptions you didn’t realize you had, or extra features/benefits you can remove?) Now is the time to start stockpiling an emergency fund for your living expenses, especially if you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck. Don’t wait until you actually lose your job to assess your financial situation.

7.   Start searching for a new job. It’s almost always easier to find a job when you have a job, so if you think your job really is in jeopardy, you might want to start looking for your next job now.

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