Navigating Corporate Downsizing: Strategies for Those Facing Layoffs

In recent news, Citigroup’s announcement to cut 20,000 jobs as part of CEO Jane Fraser’s ambitious plan to rejuvenate the bank has sent ripples through the financial industry. This decision, driven by a necessity to stabilize the company’s financial standing after a 25% plunge in fourth-quarter revenue, is a stark reminder of the volatile nature of corporate profitability and its impact on the workforce. As Citigroup braces for a “turning point” in 2024, it’s clear that the tremors of restructuring are not isolated to it alone. Major banks like JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo have also felt the squeeze, attributing their financial woes to various factors, including the regional banking crisis.

This situation sheds light on an uncomfortable truth: job security, even in reputable institutions, can be precarious. If you find yourself among those facing layoffs due to corporate restructuring or declining profits, it’s crucial to approach this crossroads with a strategic mindset. Here are actionable steps to navigate through these challenging times:

1. Embrace the Change

First and foremost, allow yourself to process the emotions that come with job loss. Acknowledge the situation’s gravity but try to view it as an opportunity for growth and new beginnings. The financial sector’s current state, with Citigroup’s restructuring and the broader banking issues, suggests an industry in transformation. Embrace the change as a chance to realign your career path with your personal goals and industry trends.

2. Assess Your Financial Health

Immediate concerns will likely revolve around financial stability. Assess your financial health by reviewing your savings, expenses, and any severance package you might receive. This is the time to budget wisely and consider any temporary adjustments to your lifestyle to extend your financial runway. Citigroup’s restructuring plan, for instance, includes severance payments that could provide a cushion for affected employees during their job search.

3. Update Your Resume and LinkedIn Profile

With the job market in flux, particularly in the banking sector, having a polished resume and LinkedIn profile is more crucial than ever. Highlight your achievements, skills, and experience that align with the evolving needs of the industry. Citigroup’s pivot points to a banking sector that values digital innovation, financial stability, and strategic foresight—traits that should be evident in your professional presentation.

4. Expand Your Network

Networking can open doors to opportunities that are not advertised publicly. Engage with your professional network, attend industry events, and consider reaching out to former colleagues. The banking sector, despite its current challenges, is a tight-knit community where opportunities can arise from shared experiences and connections.

5. Consider Upskilling or Reskilling

The banking industry’s landscape is changing, with a growing emphasis on digital finance, cybersecurity, and sustainable investing. Use this transition period to upskill or reskill. Online courses, certifications, and workshops can enhance your employability in these emerging areas. Citigroup’s strategic shift underscores the industry’s need for professionals who can navigate the complexities of modern banking.

6. Explore New Avenues

Lastly, consider exploring career opportunities outside traditional banking. The skills acquired in the banking sector are highly transferable to fintech, consulting, and even startup ecosystems. The restructuring across major banks indicates a broader industry trend that may necessitate a more flexible career outlook.

The wave of layoffs in the banking sector, underscored by Citigroup’s recent announcement, is a jarring reminder of the impermanence of job security in the corporate world. However, it also presents an opportunity to reassess, recalibrate, and reinvigorate your career path. By embracing change, bolstering your financial safety net, enhancing your skill set, and broadening your professional horizon, you can navigate through these turbulent times with resilience and purpose. Remember, every end is a new beginning—this could be the moment that defines your career.

David Edgerton Jr is the Managing Principal of The DEJ Group LLC