If you’re like most workers, you don’t start thinking of being out of work until you actually are.

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Say it’s 3 p.m. on a Friday. Your workload has slowed a bit, so you want to speak to your supervisor about it, but she hasn’t been returning your calls. As you ponder this, you see a company-wide email appear in your inbox: “New Strategy Meeting Monday Morning; Attendance Is Mandatory.”

Uh-oh … sounds like layoffs are brewing. Do you have a plan of action?

If you’re like most workers, you don’t start thinking of being out of work until you actually are. There’s no way to soften the blow, but you can reduce the time spent job searching if you take time to prepare yourself before the worst happens.

Pay off your debts and build savings. If you think your credit card debt is high now, just wait until you see your statement after a few months of living on the dole. If you sense a bad vibe in the office, hold off on major purchases and focus on knocking down any debt you have before it becomes a beast. Once that’s done, set a goal to add a certain amount — maybe $100 a month or 1 percent of each paycheck — to a savings account.

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Keep in touch, online and in person. You probably already have a LinkedIn or Twitter account, but when’s the last time you reached out to other contacts just to chat? Try to contact not only people you know, but also a few new ones each month to add a fresh new group of potential contacts to your roster. And don’t forget face-to-face meetings; make the effort to join professional groups and attend networking events.

Update your resume as you go. Did you complete a task on time and under budget? Did you learn how to use a new software tool? Add these skills and accomplishments to your resume as soon as they are completed. It’s a lot easier to add accomplishments as you go instead of trying to remember everything following a stressful layoff.

Don’t be a hero. There is a tendency among some workers to hide their layoffs out of pride. This is no time to work things out by yourself. You need to rely on your contacts, who will naturally want to help you. And how can they help you if you don’t open up?

Randy Woods is a writer and editor in the Puget Sound business publishing arena and a veteran of the local job-search scene. Email him at randywoods67@gmail.com.