In other words — Always be prepared to leave a job, because your employer is always prepared to leave you.

More and more, many companies (not all, mind you) find themselves letting employees go for a number of different reasons. Too young/too old, too much/too little salary, old/new employee, old/new direction, high/low level position are just some of the myriad reasons why people are let go from their place of employment. Sometimes we find ourselves in the crosshairs and next thing you know, you’re packing up your desk in a cardboard box.

“About six months ago i was offered a job from a supplier to my company, but I felt decently happy and comfortable working where I was. To my surprise I was laid off from work last week, and am now looking for a job.”

You need to be prepared — here are the big six things I tell my happily employed clients to shield them from layoffs:

  1. Keep your résumé/LinkedIn profile current and ready to go at a moment’s notice.
  2. Ask for testimonials when you finish projects/leave divisions/manager’s move.
  3. Embrace recruiters and interview — you never know what great position you might run into.
  4. Develop a robust emergency nest egg (just in case).
  5. Build your network — maintain past relationships and grow new ones with key people in your industry.
  6. Most important — keep your skills current and focus on in-demand areas.

I hate to say this — the idea of living through a career with the same company seems to be long, long gone. Most people should expect to move at least every 2-3 years. If you don’t, your employers will.

In addition, rarely will you experience major jumps in position/salary/benefits at the same organization. Most people experience larger percentage jumps when they move when they still have a job (check out this Forbes article). Waiting for a company to can you to get that severance package is a frequent strategy (especially if it’s a big package), but your value in the marketplace is severely reduced.

By the way . . . if you’re thinking, “I’m irreplaceable, they can’t function without what I know” then you’re underestimating an organization’s willingness to self destruct and make ridiculous decisions based on human greed and emotions.

Day One on your new job is the first day of your new job search. Never stop looking for better. The minute your current employer doesn’t need you, your butt will be out the door. Again, this perspective is not for all organizations, but it does cover the majority out there.

P.S. One final rule — Always backup key email, contacts, and project files (just in case). Most people forget how important this information is until they don’t let you go back to your computer and walk you out of the building. So much of your potential portfolio when you’re looking for a new job will be gone if you don’t save it somehow. Be prepared and always back up to a personal thumb or external hard drive.