Working Wounded: See the Layoff Coming, Quit First

You can figure out where your company's headed before the pink slips arrive.

ByABC News
April 23, 2008, 1:13 PM

April 24, 2008 — -- Dear WOUNDED: Is there any way to tell if your company is heading toward a layoff?

ANSWER: Layoffs are far too common during a recession, but they don't have to be a surprise. When it comes to anticipating layoffs, we always think of Ernie K-Doe, best known for the hit single, "Mother-in-Law." Less well-known was his run for mayor of New Orleans. Sure, celebrities run for office all the time, but Ernie's campaign was unique because he'd been dead for over a year. Ernie's life-sized mannequin, complete with his actual hair and fingernails, stumped all over The Big Easy. According to his wife, Ernie had never been in greater demand.

K-Doe didn't get elected; dead men don't climb into higher office. And neither will you if you play dead at work or hang onto a dead company. To cope during a recession in America, you and your company need to be the picture of vitality.

Be careful to not drink the Kool-Aid with coworkers by being hyper-critical about your company's future. Get an outside opinion. If you work for a public company, talk to a stock broker. A search in our city listed 391 brokers who offer a free consultation. If you work for a smaller company, check with vendors to see if they're getting paid on time. Don't stop there also get a read on your department. Is your budget increasing? Do you work with vital customers? These are great check-ups to see if a layoff could be in your future.

As Frank Sinatra crooned in New York, New York, "The Bronx is up and the Battery's down." This applies to the country as a whole some regions are hurting while business is even better than usual in others.

We can hear what you're thinking: "I've got a house, I can't move." We know a lot of people who telecommute for their jobs. Don't lock yourself into a region that is hurting when you can get a paycheck from another place.

Do you like, love or just plain hate your job? If you're really unhappy, try information interviews with people on a career path that interests you. Passionate people enjoy sharing career tips with others. You could also obtain a skills and personality evaluation to determine your vital signs. Your work decision-making shouldn't just revolve around your company or region's vitality it should reflect your passions too.