3 Ways to Deal if Your Employer goes Bankrupt


Nortel Networks Corporation (Stock Quote: NT), the struggling telecom equipment manufacturer, filed for bankruptcy protection in Ontario and Delaware on Jan. 14.

There will probably be more businesses following suit in 2009.

News of the filing hit 24 hours before the Toronto-based supplier was due to pay the interest on its $4.5 billion in corporate debt to creditors such as the Bank of New York Mellon Corporation, which is currently carrying more than $3.8 billion in Nortel bonds.

The company, which employed more than 95,000 people during the tech boom of the 1990s, has since shed 67% of its workforce.  More layoffs could be possible.

The remaining employees will still keep their desks (at least for now), but as bankruptcies become more common in the coming year, many are left wondering, “What will I do when my company goes under?”

My Company May Be Next (or is There Already), Now What?

Whether you have already been hit or are waiting for the shoe to drop, here are three tips that can help you land on your feet after your company has started bankruptcy proceedings:

1. Don’t panic. Finding out that your company has gone bankrupt is shocking, but it doesn’t always mean that you’re on your way out.

Businesses file for Chapter 11 or Chapter 7. A Chapter 11 bankruptcy such as the one  Nortel Networks Corporation just filed, means that the company’s assets are being protected from creditors. Some bigwigs may be let go, but there is a chance that you will be able to keep your job. A Chapter 7 filing is a full-scale liquidation. Either way, you should start looking.

2. Get reacquainted with your Rolodex. You may not know it, but chances are that you have hundreds of professional contacts that you simply haven’t consulted. Make a list of people in your professional network and seek them out. Worst case scenario: They’ll sympathize with you. However, they may also lead you to your next job.

3. Get a confidence boost. Losing your job can be embarrassing, but you’re not the only one to suffer from a corporate bankruptcy.

“Sit down with a mentor and get a professional evaluation,” says Jatin Desai, CEO of The Desai Group, a Hartford, CT-based consulting company.

A good, hard look at your professional life will help you remember that you’re not responsible for your company’s bankruptcy and give you the confidence to get out and look for something better.

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