48

The numbers are looking bad. People are leaving voluntarily and involuntarily. What I hear down the grapevine does not bode well. There's a real chance that in the next few months to a year my employer will close its doors. I don't think I'm in immediate danger of being laid off (I'm on parenting part-time leave, so I cost less and have some legal protection from being fired)

This is the first time that I'm in a situation like this. Of course I'll need to look for another job. I'm also considering to exchange private contact info with colleagues with whom I may want to stay in contact. What else can I do?

I also want to have a picture of what to expect in the months ahead, to make it emotionally easier for me.

Edit to add: I'm in Germany, if unemployed I'd not lose health insurance for me or my family and I could draw a not-great-but-ok welfare check for a year.

closed as off-topic by Jim G., Jan Doggen, gnat, Garrison Neely, ChrisF Oct 16 '14 at 14:36

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37

It's never a nice feeling, but there are several things that you can do to prepare. These are what I have done when I knew a company was planning to let a lot of people go.

  • Join a union. You do not know the labour laws in your country, they do. Find someone who can explain your rights in a situation like this. How much compensation are you entitled to? How much notice do they have to give?
  • Connect with your colleagues on LinkedIn. It's a sensible idea to retain business contacts with people to help with your career. And it's much easier to update than emails :-)
  • Rewrite your CV / Resume. Now's a perfect time to get it up to scratch.

As for the emotional side.

  • Say your goodbyes now. Depending on the company, you may find that people simply don't turn up for work one day. Make sure you've spoken (in person) to each of your friends and let them know that you're there for them if they need anything.
  • Talk to your manager - and your peers - about how you're feeling. Chances are that your manager can't tell you much, but she should be able to assuage some of your fears.
  • Start looking around now. When the letter comes saying that you're no longer an employee, it's much easier if you know you have a couple of interviews coming up.

Best of luck!

13

Take advantage of your parental leave to get ready to seek another position - the writing is on the wall and I am glad that you are reading it and heeding it.

  1. Actively seeking other employment is actually the most effective and most important countermeasure you can take, because you are forced to line up all your ducks: resume must be up to date and since it's 2014, LinkedIn and Facebook profiles must also be up to date. Current references, especially those senior people who know you and left the firm, must be sought. Responding to the ads will force you to come up with cover letters that you can send and resent, with tweaking for each position in necessary.

  2. I suggest as a performance target that you should be in the midst of a full blown job search within two months. If you are looking for a change in career or into training or retraining, now is a good time to look into it, even as you are sending out your up to date resumes.

  3. US-centric: Since ACA, the new health care law, was passed, affordable health care insurance may be available in your state. If you can take advantage of your significant other's health care insurance, so much the better. Germany: the name of the country alone lays to rest any worries on my part about the OP's health care insurance :)

  • Not saying your guess is wrong, but where in the question does the OP say they are in the U.S., as you seem to assume at least in item 3? – O. R. Mapper Oct 14 '14 at 12:58
  • 13
    Do companies really pay attention to Facebook profiles? At least in Europe, most people have made their profiles private, so that only Friends can see the contents. The division is quite strict that Facebook = Not related to work, LinkedIn = Work-only. – Juha Untinen Oct 14 '14 at 12:58
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    @ORMapper I am assuming US unless the context is explicitly otherwise. IUf I am wrong, then the OP gets back to me. If my answer is too US-centric, I am counting on all of you to make me aware of it and I'll either correct myself or narrow down my answer, or include your knowledgeable comments in my answer - with full attribution to you, of course :) – Vietnhi Phuvan Oct 14 '14 at 13:11
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    I've updated my question to indicate that I'm not in the US. – mart Oct 14 '14 at 13:33
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    (+1) Another minor difference: References in Germany work quite differently than anywhere else I know. You are entitled to a “reference letter” when you leave your job and would traditionally send all those with any application. Prospective employers do not contact anybody to enquire about you (the very idea they could do something like that seemed strange to the people I talked to). – Relaxed Oct 15 '14 at 6:38
6

Firs things first: yes, you should look for a new job now. The other answers already got into detail about this, I won't repeat it here. Just in case you do not find a good job when they do lay you off or close shop:

I was in a similar situation a few years ago. This is what helped me, maybe you can pick a few points that apply to your situation and will help you as well:

Social

If you are on good terms or maybe even friends with your colleagues that also lost their jobs, you have hit a jackpot: the company just provided you with your very personal "I lost my job" support group. A whole group of people going through the same things you go through. And they already know you and your situation. The next few weeks, they will have the same problems you have: who do I have to call at the Arbeitsamt? How do I write a Bewerbung? What form to fill for Insolvenzgeld? Which photographer to pick for shooting the Bewerbungsphotos? Can a lawyer help me with the Abfindung? You all have the same problems and you can share your solutions. For example we found a lawyer that would charge us only once for counseling even though we were 5 people because we all had the same story and no secrets and he could counsel us all in one meeting. We shared our experience with photographers and we read each others' CVs to improve them in terms of both spelling and contents. We all searched for jobs and when we found an ad or a connection that had a job that would fit our references but wasn't what we wanted, we would tell the others about it, because they were qualified and maybe they liked it better. When you are laid off you suddenly have a lot of time on your hands and all others are still busy as hell with their own lifes and jobs. But there's your personal support group. They do have time. If you can make it work, it's very helpful. I would have probably made it without them. But certainly not in that a good mood.

Personal

A job is giving life a structure. It's providing a routine that is suddenly gone. The first thing you should do is get a new routine for yourself. No matter what it may actually be, finding the time to go for a morning run at 07:00 or maybe reading the newspaper every morning or maybe watching your favorite episode of whatever on tv at a fixed time. But get a routine. With lots of time and nothing productive to do it is easy to slack off. Don't even start.

But there is more. A job gives your day a kind of definite end where you know all is done and you can relax. When this end is gone, make sure you create an end of your own. A definite point in time where you sit back and relax without feeling guilty. If you need to write applications, it's hard to relax, because you could. It's not like work where you couldn't work anyway if you are on the couch at home. You could write another application. You could surf the net for another job opening. Make sure you do this, but also make sure you find an end for your day where you can stop doing it without feeling guilty about it.

4

One last thing to consider, particularly if you work in a white collar job, is that you should have a copy of "your" information that is not on company-owned equipment.

Obviously do not steal business proprietary or information that belongs to your company, but it does mean being prepared to be able to shut down your computer and walk away. That means if your personal information is "leaking" into your work computers (maybe you wrote letters on your lunch break or something similar) make sure you have backup copies of things that belong to you. It's also probably a good time to clean out personal stuff off of company-owned equipment.

In a similar vein, get contact information such as the addresses, phone numbers and non-business emails of coworkers, managers and contacts that you might want to keep in touch with if the company does close. Memories fade. Keep a record of the kinds of things you worked on and who you worked on them with. If nothing else, its great raw material when you write your memoirs.

2

It may be a good idea to study your local regulations regarding social security, insolvency payments and so on. What would happen if -without any warning- your employer suddenly went bankrupt tomorrow? (This could happen, no matter what your employer tells you...)

For example: Would the state lend you the outstanding wages until the end of the insolvency proceedings (which can take months)? Are you entitled to unemployment pay? Enough to survive? Would you still have a health insurance?

The answer to such questions may determine whether you need to start looking for a job now, or if you still have some time.

1

I faced a similar situation that ultimately resulted in the closure of my place of work and the loss of several hundred jobs.

Waiting to the bitter end proved to highly problematic when applying for other positions, and I usually met several of my former colleagues at most of the subsequent job interviews that I attended (staying in contact definitely wasn't a problem!)

If the writing is really on the wall, jump first. Your first loyalty should be to yourself, not a company that might arbitrarily dump you into a sticky position at a moment of their choosing.

Stop sitting on your hands and grab the advantage before your local job market is flooded with applicants just like you.

  • Interesting point! It may not apply to all cases, but if it does, it's very relevant. – Volker Siegel Apr 8 '15 at 2:21

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