5 Ways to Avoid Getting Laid Off

No strategy is perfect, but there are ways to make yourself more secure as the economy cools.

Earlier this year, companies complained that they couldn’t hire enough employees. Now, with a possible recession looming, corporations are eyeing layoffs as a way to save money.

“It’s already starting to happen,” says Deepali Vyas, a Korn Ferry senior client partner, and global head of the firm’s FinTech, Payments and Crypto practice. Companies in the fintech and crypto sectors are rescinding employment offers. Some banks, automakers, and technology firms have announced plans to reduce their workforces. Expect these cuts to bleed into other industries, Vyas says.

It’s difficult to ignore rumors that your company might be preparing to cut staff, but experts warn against panicking. “You don’t know what the macroeconomic conditions may or may not turn out to be, and you can’t predict the future,” Vyas says.

No strategy will guarantee that your job will survive a corporate restructuring. However, here are five smart steps to take now to potentially get through a company layoff.

Make yourself invaluable.

Rather than focusing solely on the responsibilities laid out in your job description, make yourself an indispensable member of the company. Do anything to help your team, be adaptable, and play any role—up or down—in the organization. “The more roles you can play on the team, the safer you are at times like these,” says Dan Kaplan, a senior client partner in Korn Ferry's CHRO practice. 

Move into a revenue-generating role.

Look for opportunities to move into roles more directly associated with revenue generation and delivering the product, says Nathan Blain, Korn Ferry’s global solution leader of organizational strategy. “The first place companies look to make cuts is where there is no impact on near-term sales,” he says. For instance, he adds, look to move into a role, such as front-line sales, that has direct, tangible contributions to the business’s bottom line, rather than sales management or brand marketing, which typically cost the company money.

Talk about your value.

Make sure your supervisor and other senior managers know about your impact on sales, clients, or the product. “Be clear about your economic value to the company so that, when the cuts come, they know it would be painful to cut you,” Blain says.

At the same time, be a leader within your team and keep a record of what impact you are having on the company, Vyas adds. Then, if you get pulled into a conference room to discuss layoffs, you can easily tick off your contributions to the firm. “Having a proactive mindset might help you avoid being downsized,” she says.

Align yourself with multiple sponsors.

“Rather than aligning yourself with one senior vice president, align yourself with multiple sponsors who see your true value,” Vyas says. Stay neutral and avoid factions within the company, she says. “Don’t pay attention to the news and don’t spend time in the rumor mill wondering if you’re safe,” Kaplan adds.

Prepare for the possibility of a job search.

Unfortunately, a layoff may be inevitable. “It’s very hard to do anything to protect yourself once an organization decides it will cut 10%,” Kaplan says. That’s why, even when you’re happy at your job, you should always keep a pulse on the market and proactively network, Vyas says.

Consider getting into the job market before it gets flooded with other qualified candidates being laid off, Blain says. “You could get an offer and hold it until you need to accept it,” he says. Before starting a job search, determine which sectors of the economy are projected to be resilient during a downturn. Typically, Blain says, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, education, and government are good bets during a recession.