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4 expert tips to prepare for a layoff, find another job ASAP

HOUSTON – More than 50,000 Texas businesses received government loans to help them survive the COVID-19 pandemic and keep their employees working. Still, it has not been enough to save every job.

For almost 40 years Wild West night club in the heart of Houston’s Richmond strip was wildly popular for its country music, dancing and bar. Every weekend, it featured huge, happy, two-steppin’ crowds.

“If we were doing line dances, if we were two-steppin,’ the west coast swing, the dance floor was always packed,” said Ticia Sly, general manager of the club.

In the middle of KPRC 2′s interview, Sly had to pause and catch her breath as she reminisced about the good old days. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting closures, the crowds at the Wild West just dried up and vanished, leaving the massive dance floor empty and the club on the verge of financial collapse.

“I’ve been here 28 years, I grew up here,” Sly said. “I met my husband here, I raised my children here.”

Devastated by the closing of Wild West, not to mention all of the employees losing their jobs, Sly says the nightclub’s owners applied for and got one of the Small Business Administrations “Paycheck Protection Program” loans.

The program gave small business owners 2.5 times their monthly payroll expenses to cover employee salaries and other business expenses.

“Over 5 million loans have been approved and there were two rounds of appropriations,” said Mark Winchester with Houston’s branch of the SBA. “The first round was $349 billion, the second was $310 billion dollars.”

But even that infusion of cash has not been enough to save the Wild West and potentially thousands of other small businesses.

46% of small businesses face cuts, layoffs or closure

“Actually, 46% of our small business owners have reported they will need some sort of additional financial services in order to stay afloat for the next 12 months,” said Annie Spilman with the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB). “And staying afloat means keeping people employed.”

More than 5 million Texans work for small businesses.

If you’re one of them and fear you’re about to lose your job, Texas Workforce Solutions has free one-on-one help for you.

4 things to do to prepare for a possible layoff

1. Update your resume with ‘transferable skills’

Michelle Castrow works for TWS and she says the first step to finding a new job is to update your resume with an emphasis on skills that will work in any number of different jobs.

“Focus on the transferable skills... not just the fundamental or technical skills, but all those things like teamwork, communication, organization, those are incredibly valuable to employers,” said Castrow.

2. Search online job boards

Online job boards like Work in Texas, Indeed or Career Builder can be treasure troves of job listings.

Work in Texas alone has several hundred thousand jobs available as of this report.

Look at the required skills and update your resume to match. If you see a skills gap, take an online class or try to get certification to bridge those gaps.

Job fairs are still happening online as well.

TWS hosts virtual job fairs almost weekly. You can see the schedule on the TWS website.

If you’re going to attend a viritual job fair, here are some tips to prepare:

  • Register for the online job fair in advance
  • Test your equipment
  • Have your resume ready
  • Practice describing your skills, abilities and experience
  • Use complete sentences
  • Follow-up with the requested action
3. Find free help

Texas Workforce Solutions will provide you with in-depth, one-on-one job search help if you want it and it’s free. If you want to avail of the service, you can call 1-888-469-JOBS (5627).

“You can talk one-on-one with a real employment counselor... one-on-one help that doesn’t cost you anything,” said Castrow.

TWS is also sharing job leads on social media.

4. Network

This can be tough when you are dealing with a job loss. But networking is a great way to learn about opportunities — sometimes even before they come online.

Look to your professional associations, community groups in the locations where you want to work, reach out to and keep in touch with former coworkers, and of course online.

Look through KPRC 2′s searchable database of all the Houston-area recipients of $150,000+ PPP loans