By Nellie Umutesi-Vigneron

If you’ve ever been laid off, you are familiar with the void that is left in the center of your existence–that seemingly never-ending vortex twisting and turning like that tornado.  You are instantly crippled with worry and stress: How are you going to support myself? Your family? How and when will you find another job?  Should you change career?  Go back to school?

Stress and worry can definitely impair your ability to make proper long term decisions.  Preparation is key in avoiding Pink Slip Anxiety (PSA).  Here are four ways to better prepare and make the transition to unemployment as smooth as possible:

Have An Emergency Fund – Most financial planning experts recommend about three to six months’ worth of your living expenses in an emergency fund.  In trying to figure out what that amount looks like, take into consideration your rent/mortgage, car payments, insurance, children expenses (if you have children) and any other debts.  A lot of us find it difficult to save period, let alone for an emergency fund!  Start small; don’t let your goal number overwhelm you.  Realize that accumulating one month’s worth of expenses will take some time.

Network Within Your Industry – Do not make the mistake and wait until you need a job to reach out to those that you have met throughout your career.  Relationship building is important in every aspect of our lives.  We all lead busy lives, so it would be practically impossible to keep in touch with everyone that we meet.  However, we can target two to three people (some call them mentors) that we have respect for or have good knowledge of your industry and make sure to schedule coffee or lunch with them at least twice a year.

Update Your Résumé Regularly – In order to maximize your opportunity of getting hired, you should regularly update your resume with relevant accomplishments, new job duties, recently achieved certifications instead of trying to remember critical information days, months, or even years after the fact.  Memory fades as time passes!

Create Multiple Streams of Income – Earning extra money on the side is no longer an option, it is a necessity!  There is too much risk associated with relying only on your 9 to 5 for all your incoming cash.  As an Accountant myself for a Fortune 500 Company in Atlanta, I also earn money on the side as a freelance bookkeeper to several small businesses and not for profit agencies.  It was a no brainer for me: all I had to do was market my skills that I acquired through education and work to small businesses who needed my expertise but did not necessarily have the budget to hire a full time accountant.  Consider freelancing, writing, blogging, selling items on E-bay, coaching, owning an Ecommerce store to supplement your income.  Take an inventory of your skills set, your passions and figure out a way to monetize them.

What is your best tip on this subject?  If you’ve lost a job, what do you wish you had done while you were still working? You just might inspire someone to take action in a new direction.