Five tips to help gear up for a job search

Maybe you know for sure you're about to get canned. Or maybe you're just bracing for a likely downsizing. Either way, it's smart to get the wheels in motion now for landing that next job.

if you suspect -- or you know for certain -- that your current job is in jeopardy, it's a good idea to get your job-search ducks in a row. Here are some tips to help you deal with an imminent layoff and the hunt for the next job.

Note: These tips are based on an entry in BNET's Business Hacks blog.

1: Don't be shy -- tell your social networks

Are you on LinkedIn? Facebook? Twitter? Spread the word. Best case, your announcement will generate some freelance opportunities to tide you over or actual leads to a viable job offer. Worst case, you'll get some sympathy from friends and acquaintances. Heck, maybe I was wrong about social networks.

2: It's resume time

Think about three ways to pitch yourself and create a unique boilerplate resume that speaks to each of those visions of your next job. As you apply for specific positions, you'll have an easier time fine-tuning your resume if you base your response on one of those semi-customized templates.

3: Safeguard your online work

If you're a creative type, like a Web designer or a writer, capture your online work in a format that doesn't depend upon someone else's server. Make screenshots or PDFs of anything awesome you created for your job before they pull it offline or perhaps go bankrupt and go to the great 404 in the sky. You can make your best examples part of the portfolio you assemble for your next job search.

4: Ping your freelance clients

Let folks know that your shingle is out. I'm not talking about people you worked with last year. I'm talking about anyone you worked with or for in the last decade. Dig deep into your Sent mail and your archived PST folders.

5: Update your Web site

You probably haven't touched it in months or years, and now you've got both spare time and a reason for it to shine. Showcase your portfolio and highlight the work you're most proud of. Make sure it's in great shape to sell yourself to anyone who might happen to visit.

Bonus tip: Do something utterly indulgent

And be sure it costs money. After all, you might be losing your job, but a hurricane didn't just rob you of your every possession. Ideally, you want to do something that'll help you on your upcoming job hunt: Buy a new suit, get an iPhone or a snazzy new netbook. Get your hair done. But this last step is part morale booster, too, so it can be as irrelevant as a nice dinner or an Xbox. Remind yourself that the world hasn't ended.