In the early months of 2024, the global economy faced a tumultuous period, marked by a series of extensive layoffs that rippled across various industries. Amidst this backdrop of uncertainty, individuals found themselves navigating the choppy waters of job security, grappling with the reality of an ever-evolving job market.

January hiring was among the lowest on record, with companies announcing the highest level of job cuts in January since early 2023.

For many, this period became a critical juncture, prompting a deep reflection on their career paths and aspirations. As companies streamlined operations and tightened belts, employees were forced to adapt swiftly, honing new skills, and exploring alternative employment opportunities. Networking, once a peripheral activity, became a lifeline, connecting individuals to new possibilities in a landscape transformed by technological advancements and shifting market demands. In this climate, resilience and adaptability emerged as the indispensable tools for weathering the storm, guiding countless professionals through the challenges of layoffs towards new horizons of opportunity and growth.

Financial sector layoffs totaled 23,238, the worst month for the sector since September 2018. Tech layoffs totaled 15,806, the highest since May 2023. Food producers announced 6,656, the highest since November 2012. This surge in tech layoffs highlighted the industry’s rapid adjustments to changing consumer demands, technological advancements, and a competitive landscape that necessitated a leaner workforce to sustain innovation and growth. Meanwhile, the food production sector, often viewed as resilient against economic shifts, reported 6,656 job cuts, the highest since November 2012. This spike was a stark indicator of the pressures facing the industry, from rising operational costs to shifting consumer preferences and global supply chain disruptions. Together, these figures painted a sobering picture of the challenges confronting key sectors of the economy, signaling a period of significant transition and adaptation as industries strived to navigate the complexities of a changing global economic environment.

With layoffs at the top of many people’s minds, it’s important to have a plan in place.

“Layoffs are stressful and can be devastating for individuals and families. It seems that companies are often laying off thousands of employees. Even though it can be scary to feel that your job isn’t secure, there are things you can do to prepare yourself,” says Finance Coach Jeannie Dougherty.

What are some steps you can take? in the face of escalating layoffs, individuals can bolster their resilience and marketability by embracing continuous learning to enhance their skill sets, actively expanding their professional networks through online platforms and industry events, and exercising financial prudence by building an emergency fund and trimming non-essential expenses. Updating resumes and LinkedIn profiles, along with honing interview skills, are essential steps for those directly impacted, ensuring they are prepared to seize new opportunities. Additionally, exploring alternative employment avenues such as part-time work, freelancing, or consulting can offer both financial stability and the chance to investigate new career paths with flexibility. Together, these strategies form a comprehensive approach to navigating the uncertainties of job loss, turning a period of professional upheaval into an opportunity for significant career reflection and growth.

First, review your bank and investment accounts and look at what is there before making any financial decisions. Do you have a severance package, and if so, for how long? When can you expect payment? This will help you map out your options. Then, take a look at your savings. It is a crucial component to weathering uncertain periods.” 

You can also be proactive and keep your network up to date while making new connections.

“Another tip is to check into your LinkedIn and keep yourself connected and engaged. Above all, ask yourself what you are willing or not willing to do. Consider taking on a temporary second job or a contract job. Even volunteering in between jobs to help boost your resume and allow you to learn additional skills.”

Jeannie Dougherty is a certified money coach, counselor, mental fitness coach and speaker. She offers her clients a holistic approach that prioritizes long-term success.