What Should I Do If I Think I Am Going to Lose My Job Because of the Coronavirus Pandemic?

It is an understatement to say that we are living in frightening and uncertain times. 

As the economy plunges, millions of people have already lost their jobs and many others are wondering if they are going to lose their jobs in the coming weeks and months. 

Although the situations are obviously very different, I lived — and job hunted — through the crisis of 9/11 and its aftermath. Markets crashed and people were terrified… and I was sending out applications. I’m not saying 9/11 was the same as the current Coronavirus pandemic, but it was definitely a crisis.

In the months of 2001 before 9/11, I was working at WorkingWoman.com, and it was clearly on the verge of shutting down. What did I do to prepare for a potential job loss? Well, not much. Basically, I put my head in the sand and hoped for the best. I do not recommend this strategy. 

Instead, I recommend you be as proactive as possible and control the things you can control, so you are positioned as well as possible for an uncertain future. Think about your future self. What would your six-months-in-the-future self want you to have done during this time? 

Here are three questions your future self might ask you.

Do you have a partner to rely on?

Farnoosh Torabi posted an incredibly helpful Youtube video that breaks down personal finances during this crisis. If you have a partner with a more secure income, start living on just your partner’s income now. Job hunting becomes that much more difficult when you’re also worried about paying next month’s water bill.

If you don’t have a partner or any additional financial support, trim as many expenses as you can right now to prepare for a potential loss of income.

Do your professional skills need a tuneup?

I hope it doesn’t happen, but let’s say you lose your job next month. Between now and then, you could add more skills to your current skillset to make yourself more marketable. You could complete an online course in graphic design, data analytics, SEO or any other skill. This is especially important if you were already thinking about shifting employers or industries, or if you know you have some knowledge or skill gaps that need improving. 

A few options for improving your skills:

  • Take an online course from LinkedIn Learning, Udemy or Khan Academy.
  • Renew or complete any professional certifications required for a new job.
  • Revisit your college career center (no matter how long ago you graduated) for online interview prep, resume writing and job search seminars. 

Would you be ready for an interview tomorrow? 

If worse comes to worst and you do lose your job, you’ll want to jump back into the hiring pool as soon as possible. 

Here’s what you can do to prepare:

  • Update and Improve Your Resume

Add your most recent work experience, add in keywords from job postings that appeal to you and have a friend proofread the document. Also, you might want to create different versions of your resume if you decide to try out a different industry. For instance, if you are currently working in online advertising sales, you might want to pivot into direct B2B sales or even nonprofit fundraising. Have a customized resume for each potential path.

  • Update and Improve Your LinkedIn Profile

Along with the advice I gave for updating your resume, start engaging with various groups and individuals on LinkedIn. Connect with former colleagues and classmates and write them a note to check in and wish them well. Comment on threads and share relevant articles and personal thoughts that might help someone in your network. 

  • Start Scoping out Jobs Now

Even if you’re still employed, it’s not too early to start scanning Indeed, LinkedIn and industry-specific job boards. You don’t need to submit an application right away. Just spend some time getting to know what kinds of jobs are available. Research companies that interest you. With many of these platforms, you can even subscribe to industry-specific email updates. Never miss a new listing.

I know the fear of losing your job can be overwhelming – even paralyzing. That’s why I recommend starting as early as possible and take things step by step. You don’t have to do everything at once. Take care of yourself and please let me know how I can support you.

We will get through this pandemic together.


This blog post is based on Episode 8 of The Work Remix Podcast, “What Should I Do If I Think I Am Going to Lose My Job?”

Listen to it on Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcast service.

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Lindsey is a globally recognized career and workplace expert and the leading voice on generational diversity. She has spoken for more than 300 audiences including Google, Goldman Sachs, Estee Lauder, Stanford and Wharton. Lindsey is the author of four career and workplace advice books, and her insights have appeared in media outlets including The TODAY Show, CNBC, NPR, the Harvard Business Review and the Wall Street Journal.


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