After 9/11, the economy slowed. As a nation, we were in fear. We were in shock.

At the time, I was in a difficult season of my life. My marriage was falling apart and I was living separately.

I was employed but at a job that wasn’t a good fit for my career goals. It was a new job that I took in efforts to repair my marriage.

The job was in a new industry for me.  My role was slower-paced and less stressful than my previous job.

(As a side-note, even though that job wasn’t a good fit for me, many of the skills I learned in that role have helped me in what I do today. Also, at that job, I worked with some great people and developed long-lasting friendships.)

With the downturn in the economy, business slowed. My employer was a publicly traded international company.

They went through two rounds of lay-offs. Thankfully, I survived those two rounds.

They were significantly reducing headcount. In my office, each team was reduced to two people – a partner and senior associate.

A month after the last round of lay-offs, the partner I was aligned with decided to relocate across country. There was not enough work for another partner to add me to their team. I was let go.

From that experience, I learned the value of preparing for an economic downturn and being downsized.

In today’s COVID-19 environment, we have many unknowns. One unknown is how long this situation will last.

With quarantine requirements and social distancing in place, we see businesses reducing their offerings or closing. Even the government is recognizing the impact on our economy and making decisions to minimize it.

While I am confident we will rebound and regain our strength as a nation, it’s important to be wise and make a plan in case you are downsized. You need to survive the time between now and when we rebound as a nation.

Aside from reducing your spending and saving as much money as possible in an emergency reserve, here are suggestions to help you prepare in case you are downsized:

1- Stay updated on company information

Read emails sent from your CEO, as well as from your HR department and other support services. If your firm is privately held or a small business, stay alert for any warning signs of a round of lay-offs.

If your firm is publicly traded, listen to the investor calls. Go to the firm’s website and look for “investor relations.” You’ll find information about the next analyst call. That’s where your C-level executives discuss what’s going on with the company.

Don’t get bogged down with this step. It’s just a way for you not to be surprised if and when it happens.

2- Update your LinkedIn profile

If you’ve been employed for many years, you may not realize the value of LinkedIn. It’s a tool many companies and recruiters use to find human capital.

Look up someone you respect and use their LinkedIn profile as your template. Your information should be easy to read – it’s similar to an online resume.

Recruiters and hiring departments of firms use keyword searches on profiles to find candidates (think of LinkedIn as a large database).

When making changes to your profile, turn off the notification to your connections. In this way, they are not aware of every single change you make on your profile.

3- Expand your network

Once you have your LinkedIn profile updated, check your connections. Reach out to those who have not connected with you yet. Think about past colleagues and even college connections.

Once we lift social distancing, start attending your professional networking meetings. After each meeting, connect with new contacts on LinkedIn.

The reason connections are still important in today’s online world is that most people find their next opportunity through existing connections.

4- Know your state’s unemployment policies

If you’re downsized and the economy is still sluggish, it may take several months before companies begin hiring. During that time, you’ll need to pay your essential expenses (rent/mortgage, utilities, food, etc.).

One way to pay for these expenses is through your emergency reserve. If you don’t have enough money to cover several months of expenses, then consider collecting unemployment.

Each state has their own rules and regulations regarding claiming unemployment. Check with your state policies to find out the requirements for filing for an unemployment check.

Also, find out if there is a monthly limit on how much a person or household can receive.

If the money you receive from unemployment does not cover all your essential expenses, you’ll need to supplement that money.

You can supplement it with a temporary job. However, there may be restrictions on how much additional money you can earn if you collect unemployment.

5- Explore temporary jobs now

It’s stressful to find a job when essential expenses are due. If your job isn’t recession-proof, start exploring temporary job options now.

You don’t need to apply for these jobs yet. But know which jobs are available so you can immediately take action if necessary.

Explore becoming a freelancer on virtual sites such as Fiverr, 99Designs, and Upwork. Start creating your profile and understanding how these sites work.

Research companies near you that are hiring now. It may not be in the industry or career path you’re pursuing but it’s temporary work. It’s what you’ll need to do until your target companies begin hiring.

During an economic downturn, it’s a reality that many firms may reduce their headcount (aka downsize). While you don’t want to waste energy worrying about what you can’t control, focus on developing a plan. Follow these suggestions and remember to stay PEF (positive, enthused, and focused).


Niv Persaud, CFP®, CDFA™, RICP®, CRPC®, is the Founder of Transition Planning & Guidance, LLC. Life is more than money. It’s about living the lifestyle you want and can afford. For that reason, Niv consults with clients on money, life, and work. Her approach capitalizes on techniques she learned throughout her career, including as a management consultant, executive recruiter, and financial advisor. Her services include developing spending plans, comprehensive financial plans, divorce financial reviews, retirement plans. Niv actively gives back to her community through her volunteer efforts. She believes in living life to the fullest by cherishing friendships, enjoying the beauty of nature and laughing often — even at herself. Her favorite quote is by Erma Bombeck, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I used everything you gave me.’”

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