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Careers

Dealing With a Layoff

Strategies if you fear you will or do lose your job.

While you're still employed, build up your savings. Among laid-off workers, the average time spent unemployed is five months for those 45 and older, and four months for younger workers. Try to have enough cash on hand to comfortably cover your expenses for at least that long.

Also, set up a line of credit you can draw on. If your home hasn't lost too much value, a home-equity line is one option, and low-interest credit cards will work in a pinch. And don't wait till you're unemployed to begin networking.

If you lose your job, start looking for work immediately. John Challenger, CEO of outplacement company Challenger, Gray & Christmas, says times are too tough to dally, even if you have severance pay.

Contact other unemployed people, join a job-search group specific to your industry and get coaching. High-priced outplacement companies that help with resumes, interviewing skills and networking are fine if you can afford them, but try lower-cost providers, such as Five O'Clock Club and Hair Management.