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I'm a former VP of HR at Microsoft. Here are the 3 types of employees most at risk during layoffs — and the 2 that are safest.

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Chris Williams

Chris Williams was at Microsoft for almost 8 years.Chris Williams

  • Chris Williams is a former VP of HR at Microsoft and a podcaster, consultant, and creator of TikTok.

  • Microsoft, like many other tech companies, recently announced plans to lay off 5% of its staff.

  • It can be difficult to judge your layoff risk, but those close to earnings are generally not targeted.

I’m a former VP of HR at Microsoft and I’ve been on both sides of a layoff.

Many are seeing layoffs in the news and wondering about their own risk of being fired. Every industry, company, and even department has a different risk, but some areas are more vulnerable than others.

Here are some general guidelines roughly in order of lowest to highest risk.

#1 Safest: For-Profit Employees

The basic rule is that the closer your work is to the company’s most profitable activities, the lower the risk of being fired.

If you are a key part of building the most profitable product for your company, your risk of being fired is low. By retreating to the core business, companies turn to quality products that make money.

If you are essential to one of these products, the chances of losing your job are almost equal to the risk of bankruptcy for the entire company.

#2 Safest: HR or Finance Employees

People often think of personnel services such as finance, facilities, or human resources when they think of layoff risk areas. But these areas are pretty lean at most companies, even when times are good.

There is usually little excess to cut. Additionally, HR is key in the termination process, and finance is often used as the financial situation comes under more scrutiny.

As such, these areas are rarely the source of major cutbacks in most layoffs.

And now, here are the 3 employees most at risk during layoffs.

#3 most at risk: event planning or benefits staff

More risky are activities considered luxury, such as generous employee benefits and perks, and so on.

If you’re involved in event planning, for example, these are some of the first things companies cut out when times get tight. People who are part of providing such services are at high risk of being fired.

#2 Most at Risk: Employees of New Initiatives

Another area you should be concerned about is new initiatives. If, in boom times, the company has recently decided to explore new lines of business or expand into new territories, these are fragile places to work.

Unless the company is making a concerted effort to pivot entirely into these new areas, these types of new initiatives are often the first to go when times are toughest.

#1 most at risk: contract workers

At the extreme end of the risk spectrum are contract workers. One of the main reasons companies use temporary or contract workers is precisely because of this contingency. They want to remain flexible in the event of a downturn.

As such, hired employees are often the first to leave when the tide turns.

Aside from these areas, most jobs fall somewhere between these poles.

Judging your risk of being fired in these middle roles can be difficult. Determining which areas are critical or at risk requires insider knowledge of your company’s retirement and recovery plans and can be difficult to tell from a distance.

Keep your resume up to date regardless of the risk of being fired

Regardless of the risk of layoffs, keeping your resume up to date is always good advice. You’d rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.

A good tool is to keep a personal list of your accomplishments in a running document. Include big hits and the essential summary information you might include when describing your work to an outsider. Update this list at least once a month to ensure it is current and your memory of events is fresh.

You certainly don’t want to keep proprietary company information, but a notable, always-updated list will make it easy to update your resume if or when you need to. And, of course, keep it and your resume on your personal device in case the worst happens without warning.

Keeping your resume up to date can not only help you weather the coming storm, but it will also give you the confidence that you can bounce back, regardless of the risk of being fired.

Chris Williams is a former VP of HR at Microsoft and a leadership consultant, podcaster, TikTok creator, and author.

This story was originally published in September 2022.

Read the original article on Business Insider