How to get your resume recession ready

To combat high inflation, the Fed is increasing interest rates, causing the economy to slow. A slowing economy can result in decreased sales for many companies, which can ultimately lead to layoffs. The question on many people’s minds is, “should I be worried?” and “how can I prepare for a potential layoff?”

Brain McNeill, Senior Vice President with Challenger, Gray and Christmas, the first executive outplacement firm in the United States, says that right now the job market is still extraordinarily good however, many companies are internally starting to talk about plans to mitigate recession risk.

To help you prepare, we’ve compiled a few tips to help you get your finances and professional affairs in order, so you are recession ready.

How to prepare for potential downsizing?

The COVID-19 pandemic changed the workforce. Many people didn’t return to work when vaccines were made available, and businesses started to reopen. The market became heavily candidate-driven as opposed to employer-driven.

Because the job market has been so competitive, McNeill said he’s seen people getting big signing bonuses. In some cases, people are being paid 30% to 40% more than their predecessors. Now, as we enter a recession and employers look for ways to tighten their bottom line, it’s those new, highly paid workers that are likely to be the first to go.

If you’re concerned that you might be a casualty of downsizing, there are things you can do to prepare, including:

Get your marketing materials in order

A well-written resume is an essential tool for any job search. If you don’t want to write your own resume, you can look for a resume writer to help you with the task. Also, ensure your professional LinkedIn profile is optimized and up to date.

Activate your external network

Even more important than your resume and marketing material is your network. McNeill says, for executives, there’s a good 70% to 80% chance that, should they find themselves at an unexpected job loss, their next role will come from someone in their network.

If you think you are at risk of losing your job in the next year or so, start networking now. Sit down and make a list of influential people that are in your network and reconnect. Set a goal of having two lunches or scheduling two phone calls per week to catch up with old colleagues.

Mix business with pleasure

If it’s hard to find the time to schedule reconnection meetings, think about how you can incorporate networking into your regular activities. For instance, if you golf every weekend, invite a few of your old co-workers to enjoy a round. This way, if you do get laid off and need to reach out for help, it’s more comfortable because you’ve already started the connection.

How to prepare when you know your job will be eliminated?

If a layoff is inevitable, consider the following:

Negotiate your severance package.

This includes severance pay, your equity payouts and bonuses. Also, think about your non-cash benefits like medical benefits. For instance, see if you can negotiate an extension of company-paid benefits.

Work with an outplacement company.

If you have access to outplacement in your severance package, use it. Get help re-writing your resume and let them help you to get into the right frame of mind to find a new opportunity.

Work with an employment lawyer.

Have them review your severance agreement to make sure you’re getting the best deal. They can also make sure you’re not being negatively impacted by something like an overburdensome non-compete clause.

Crunch your numbers.

In some cases, a healthy severance package might just top you over the edge to becoming financially independent. This can give you the ability to decide if you want to retire or take a break while you wait for the right opportunity.

Don’t forget about tax planning.

In many cases, the year you get a severance package could be the largest income year have, especially if you get another job right away. To ensure you’re best capturing the benefits of your severance package, tax planning is necessary.

Get recession ready

These are just a few techniques you can apply to help ensure you are recession ready. The more prepared you are for a potential layoff, the easier it will be to transition into your next opportunity.


Lisa Brown

Lisa Brown


Lisa is a Partner and Wealth Advisor at CI Brightworth and has served as chairwoman of CIPW’s Business Development Committee. In addition to working with clients, Lisa has published three books, Girl Talk, Money Talk. The Smart Girl’s Guide to Money After College; Girl Talk, Money Talk II. Financially Fit and Fabulous in Your 40s and 50s; and CI Brightworth’s first book, Building Your Wealth Inside Corporate America. Lisa has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, YahooFinance,, and many more, and frequently speaks at seminars across the country.


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