Many people don't realize that industry downsizing will affect their jobs until it's too late. The answer? Even if your position seems secure, be vigilant and proactive.
One key question to ask yourself is if there have been major layoffs or consolidations in companies similar to yours.
Even if you’re in a comparatively desirable area like IT, if you are working in a field that’s in trouble (e.g. manufacturing, retail), you may not be able to rely on cushy severance packages or the ability to quickly land a job with a competitor. Before you become a layoff victim, reorganize your finances so that your liabilities are as low as possible and set up an emergency fund. Update your résumé and line up your references so they're ready to go when you need them.
This may be the time to move to an industry in which jobs are more plentiful. Healthcare and private education continue to see employment gains, and if you can use your current skills in an area that received funding from the economic-stimulus plan, all the better.
Many professionals are daunted by the prospect of a mid-career industry switch, but as long as you have the core skills and enough basic knowledge to hold your own in an interview, you can feel confident.
Peruse publications related to your new field and learning the target industry's recent history and developments. You will likely find more opportunities in smaller companies or nonprofits, since roles in these organizations tend to be less specialized.
Networking is obviously key here. If you can, use your old network to help launch a new career. Otherwise, reach out to professional associations and people in the kinds of jobs you'd like to do to begin to build a new network.
If you aren’t up for a total career makeover, you might also think about developing an adjacent career or another expertise that will help you stay afloat in your current industry.