Twitter, Facebook, Hootsuite, Shopify, Pinterest, Allbirds, Nordstrom. Over the past year, layoffs, particularly in the tech sector, have dominated news headlines—and our social-media feeds. We’ve all seen posts from friends announcing their departure from “dream” jobs, former colleagues sharing articles about downsizing at their current workplace and professional acquaintances saying public farewells to affected co-workers. Despite the fact that the unemployment rate is at a near-record low and Canadian companies are still struggling to fill vacant roles, there continues to be uncertainty in the job market thanks to prolonged high inflation and talks of a potential recession. In fact, a recent isolved survey found that 53 percent of HR leaders trimmed their workforce last year or are planning to do so this year.

If you happen to find yourself facing one of these situations, instead of focusing on the possibility of budget cuts or industry layoffs, establishing open communication with your immediate supervisor or a senior leader at work is a good place to start. You could ask if they think you should be worried or concerned, says Kadine Cooper, a career-transition coach with a background in recruiting and talent acquisition. Continue to advocate for yourself at work, but at the same time, try not to dwell on it too much, especially before you know how these trends and changes might impact you, suggests Hermie Abraham, a lawyer and the founder of Advocation, an employment-law firm. “I think that sometimes people get really caught up in ‘Is it going to be me? Who’s going to be selected? What can I do?’ and they start to really freak out,” says Abraham, who also has a background in HR. “And there’s nothing you can do directly to impact whether an organization is going to dismiss you or not.” Instead, focus on your own performance: Show up, be present and do the best job you possibly can. “Anybody who’s contributing value—even if their position ends up being eliminated—is going to have earned a lot of goodwill that [they can] parlay into their next opportunity.”

At the same time, if you’re concerned about potential downsizing, it helps to be prepared. Research economic industry trends and have exploratory conversations with industry leaders or influencers; your findings could help you understand your overall job prospects and where there might be better employment opportunities. “Figure out what’s really going on and what is the best next step for you if [redundancy] happens to be your fate,” says Cooper. “Maybe you need to go back to school, or maybe you need to do some upskilling.” This is also a key time for networking and highlighting your wins, both at work and in your professional network. “Make sure you’re letting people know that you’re doing a good job,” says Abraham. Take stock of your digital footprint and how you might look to potential employers. “Does your presence on social media depict who you are or how you want to be known?” asks Cooper. Do a web search on yourself, and make sure that your digital networking profiles are accurate and up-to date. Finally, just in case, you might want to back up your personal digital files on work issued devices. “Don’t steal your employer’s files, because they can come after you legally, but make sure you’re backing up your personal files or anything you’re going to need,” says Abraham.

If the worst-case scenario does happen and your role is impacted by downsizing, you will normally receive a termination or severance package. “[In] different jurisdictions, Ontario being one, there are specific rules about the minimum standards that need to be applied for a person’s separation passage or notice of termination,” says Abraham. Of course, those are minimum standards, and what someone might get will typically be based on either what is outlined in their employment contract or (except in Quebec) the common law. “That is going to look at a person’s age at the time of dismissal, their years of service to the company, the type of position that they’re doing and their job prospects,” says Abraham.

She suggests having a lawyer review your severance package. “It’s important to know whether the separation package is fair and reflects your legal entitlements and whether there’s room for improvement.” If there is room for improvement, they can also advise you on the best way to get it. Unless your workplace is unionized, the details of any package can be negotiated, either directly with your employer or through a lawyer. “The worst thing they’re going to say is no,” says Abraham.

Beyond the paperwork, layoffs can also be tough emotionally. It might take a few days for you to absorb everything and for feelings like shock and anger to wear off, notes Cooper. “Show yourself a little bit of grace,” she says. “Just take it one day at a time, because none of us knows what the future holds.” And instead of posting the news on social media right away, consider holding off until you have had a chance to think about your potential next steps and can articulate what you’re looking for. “People can’t help you if they don’t know what you want,” says Cooper. Take a few days to reflect on where you want to go from here and what you want for the next part of your career. “If money were no object, what would you be doing? What could you be doing?” asks Cooper. “How can you put the right actionable steps in place to make that happen for yourself?”

With some thought and effort, this difficult moment in your career could also be an opportunity to reassess your path and try something new. It could turn out to be the perfect time to lay the groundwork for the next stage of your professional life.