Surviving the Cut

If you’ve been through a round of layoffs and are plagued with survivor guilt, shrug it off. Nobody is indispensable; every paycheque could be your last. Here are five tips for those left behind:

• Strive to stay productive. According to a December 2008 study by U.S. leadership and research firm Leadership IQ, 74 per cent of employees who have survived layoffs say their productivity has dropped. So be careful: getting slack could make you a target.

• Never wait for the other shoe to drop. Imagine what you would do if you were pink-slipped. Would you be devastated? Or would you seize the day and change your life? Always have a contingency plan.

• Be proactive. If you are sure this is the job or career for you, add value. Technically competent but short on people skills? Take leadership courses. Seek out challenges and assume more responsibility. Boost your experience by volunteering. While it might not stave off a layoff, you will show better on the job-search circuit.

• Stay connected. Keep your networks fresh and your face out there. Join a professional organization. Buff up your resumé (get professional help if necessary) and be ready to go.

• Build a safety net. If you are among the 40 per cent of Canadians without a rainy day fund, try to stash three to six months’ salary in an accessible savings account. While most layoff victims are eligible for EI, a financial cushion helps weather a protracted job search, educational upgrade or entrepreneurial venture.