The Annual Layoff Immunization (Part 1 of 2)

Questions This Guidance Answers: 
  • What do I need to have in case of a layoff?
  • Where do I keep it?
  • How often should I update my resume?

This week, we conclude our conversation on the Manager Tools Annual Layoff Immunization Guidelines.

"We received lots of comments and email regarding our show regarding the first rule of layoffs. While our recommendation struck some folks the wrong way - "finances rule??" - those who HAD been laid off told us we were dead solid perfect.

The fact is, we did not expect three years ago to get such positive responses to our casts and advice on careers and career management. We SHOULD have seen it, but we didn't (and you'll learn why in this week's cast). But we are listening, and thus this week's cast.

In the same way that "Finances Rule" when it comes to being laid off, PREPARATION makes the entire process so much easier. Both of these recommendations stem from a simple principle: decisions of import made under pressure are dangerous.

So, this week: our Annual Layoff Immunization Guidelines.

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Is that a rooster I hear in the

Is that a rooster I hear in the background? (4:22 and others in the podcast)


Yes, it is. I couldn't find a

Yes, it is. I couldn't find a remove-the-rooster-audio-filter unfortunately. What you probably DIDN"T hear was the point when Mark had to stop recording, run outside, and chase about 30 roosters out of his neighbor's back yard. See what we go through for our listeners? :-)


I've arranged for the roosters to

I've arranged for the roosters to disappear. It's a small town, and those who can do such things owe me some favors.


Chicken soup for everyone at Mark's

Chicken soup for everyone at Mark's house-- pass it on. :-)

Guess that shows the value of

Guess that shows the value of relationship power and a well maintained network.



All I can say, as a survivor of being

All I can say, as a survivor of being downsized is "Absolutely spot on with the advice". I was lucky -- I knew the ax was coming and got my info off site. Since then, I've not relied on being lucky. Some will say printed copies of contacts isn't needed and that they've got multiple copies in places where they'll be able to get at them. My advice is that the multiple electronic copies are good, but a printed copy updated once a quarter is still worth the effort. Your contacts list is (or should be) that valuable that a) another backup is good and b) that written copy is extremely valuable for strategizing who to talk with about what.

You may never suffer a layoff or be

You may never suffer a layoff or be walked out by security, but you most certainly will be screwed under by a hard disk failure or some idoit in IT. Always backup your own data -- especially your Outlook PST file.

Just put the word "backup" into Outlook's help system for instructions on creating a backup of your PST file that you can copy to a flash drive or burn to a CD. You should also backup your "My Documents" folder and web browser favorites, too.

Please note: Some companies have strict policies against this and you could be fired for doing so. It can even be illegal in some cases (defense work, health care, etc).

Congratulations Edwin - you beat me to

Congratulations Edwin - you beat me to the punch asking about the rooster in the background. So, we're recording these in the cool pre-dawn hours out on the farm, eh Mike? I'm looking forward to having to stop the taping "because the cows need a-milkin'!"

Regarding paper print out: the disadvantage to paper is that once it's downloaded (and you've left), you will eventually have to re-enter all that information into another system (that's worth an "ugh!" I think). The advantage to a PST file is that you can upload it, in it's entirety, to Plaxo - or to your Gmail account.

The lesson that M/M teach here is absolutely correct: don't find yourself without your contacts. But I'd respectfully amend the advice to include keeping an up-to-date soft copy of your contacts, just so you don't have to recreate it manually in the future.

I'll be blunt. You're recommending

I'll be blunt. You're recommending folks *STEAL* their employer's corporate address book. I'm sure this is not what you intended, but you did not clarify (at least not in this podcast) that taking a company address book, even one that you created, is theft.

Almost everyone is work for hire, therefore any thing you do with corporate resources is owned by the company. If you use a company computer, phone, credit card, etc. to get a contact and build a relationship, you cannot simply take it with you when you are terminated.

I'm surprised that Mark has not heard this scenario before: A sales guy is terminated (for any reason) and takes his contact list with him. His future employer ask him for it or he brags about it to the wrong person or customer. Word gets back to the previous employer, they sue, current employer wants nothing to do with it and fires the guy. Now, that person will have a very difficult time getting a job. I've heard it happen on two occasion.

To take it to the extreme, if you lose that contact information and it falls into the wrong hands, the customers can sue previous employer for breach of privacy. As a customer, I may not want my information to simply walk out the door when an employee is terminated.

As a manager who may have to deal with laying of employees (to any of my directs you may read this not worry, there are no plans of this nature), what effective tools can I learn from MT to prevent theft of company property? I don't want my competitors to have my customer list.

Love the podcast, I hope to hear you address this sensitive issue.

This is silly and offensive. We have

This is silly and offensive. We have never recommended anything that would be anything near illegal or unethical. There is nothing illegal about writing down email addresses of co-workers.

You have to assume something about our intent to come to this conclusion... and there are not only no facts to suggest that we would ever recommend that, there are far too many countervailing facts.

Thanks for sharing your point of view.


Mark and Mike were definitely NOT

Mark and Mike were definitely NOT recommending that you take customer lists for purposes of building a new business or augmenting an existing one. They were recommending that you maintain your ability to network with colleagues even if you are laid off.

They are also not recommending that you take the ENTIRE company directory. The names you put on paper should be your network.

Those are very different things.


John and Mark, I did not make the

John and Mark,

I did not make the distinction of only taking your colleagues' email address in cast. I got the impression that most people store their network in a company database and they should periodically extract it.

If you want to be free of ambiguity, one should maintain a personal network database, especially if your network overlaps with your company's customer list. Even if your intent is benign, it may not stand up against a lawsuit. This puts folks at risk if they're not careful, IMO, and this is probably where we disagree.

Love the podcast!


Sorry Noah. Thanks

Sorry Noah.

Thanks John.


HMacNiven, I agree that paper has the

I agree that paper has the disadvantage of requiring you to type it all in. I actually had my computer and Palm die back to back and the only thing I had was paper. The one good thing about paper is it makes you think about each contact and I made a lot of calls in the several weeks it took me to type the contacts back in.

I would strongly suggest keeping paper or some other database that YOU control. I would not rely on a third party (i.e. Plaxo, linkedin, gmail) to keep your only copy of your contacts. You never know when these guys are going out of business, get acquired or go to another business model.

On a side note, I also had a couple of "who is this guy" during this exercise. A little embarrassing, but make me look through the contact more often.


Using an online service rather than

Using an online service rather than paper adds additional risk to the process. If you do so, make sure you have all your usernames and passwords stored at home. It would be unfortunate to realise that your work computer always logs you into what ever website you use automatically and you have no idea what your password is. If you used your work email address when you set up the acount you might not be able to receive a password reminder email.

If you only realise all of this after you've been shown the door its all too late.

Wow, your podcasts have a definite way

Wow, your podcasts have a definite way of humbling people.

I thought that my current system (having contacts of current network contacts written in a book) was efficient but after the depth of your system I feel that I have a lot of work to do. There goes my weekend...

Nonetheless, great podcast once again.

During the podcast, you mentioned

During the podcast, you mentioned Printing out the contact list.
Has anyone considered exporting the data from Outlook or Lotus Note in a .Csv file and send the file to oneself by email ?

That should save a lot of valuable time once imported into your email application at home. It keeps also all the fields that matter to you ( spouse's name, children, etc...). Printouts are great but we still need to process the data again in the address book.

Once imported, it is also possible to sync the data with your phone

RESULT : One database = several point of access + time saved

Sycomore- You are confusing


You are confusing efficiency and effectiveness. We recommend that you must have a printed version, period.


Mark and Mike, I was going to say

Mark and Mike,

I was going to say something about keeping all my contacts in Gmail instead of printing them. However, I see your repeated theme of printing. I can see the merits.

Thanks for a great podcast. I am trying to implement many of your suggestions where I work and feel a little like a rebel. Your podcast helps me keep plugging along


portfolios are also important

I speak from the point of view of a graphic designer, but I imagine a similar best practice applies to programmers, technical writers, etc.

Make and keep a few samples of your work, and incorporate those samples into your portfolio. Make a CD backup and/or a good quality printout of your work. If it was a group project, make notes about what parts of the design (or code, or copy) you contributed. Do this every few months, forever, no matter how secure you feel in your job.

If you get laid off, employers will want to see samples of the things you've created. You don't want to tell an interviewer "Oh, sure, I've designed vector logos before. Go to www.[previous-employer].com and you'll see some of my work... oh, gee, looks like they re-did their Website..."

I'm NOT saying you should fill up stacks of (company-owned!) CD-Rs with complete press-ready magazine layouts, or grab all the HTML/CSS/images for a corporate Website you designed. That would be overkill, and probably illegal. Also, if you have an on-line portfolio (and you should), you want to take care to watermark and attribute any images which contain company trademarks, even if they're your drawings. (There are legal and professional standards for this; look them up.)

Also SAVE YOUR WORK IN UNIVERSAL FORMATS. If you fill a Blu-Ray disc with QuarkXPress 8 files, but your computer at home has a plain old DVD drive and Microsoft Office, you won't be able to read your portfolio, and thus YOU DON'T HAVE A PORTFOLIO. Print things out, make PDF files, rasterize files to .tif, whatever it takes.

If your company has strict, unyielding data-control policies that absolutely forbid you to make reasonable, limited samples of your artwork/code/writing for the purpose of maintaining a professional portfolio, then I hate to say it, but you must (must!) do some freelance work to keep your portfolio current. It needn't be a second career. Volunteer to re-do your church's Website, design a logo for the local coffee shop, help your alma matter with their newsletter. Telling an Art Director "my last company wouldn't let me build my portfolio" is like telling your teacher "the dog ate my homework."

Also, if you buy iTunes at work (including Manager-Tools podcasts), make periodic backups of those, too. If you get laid off and ushered out of the building, you're going to need those great blues albums to help you through. :)