One way to keep your finger on the pulse of the IT industry is to know who is laying off and where. Our friends at Cnet.com are tracking just that, with "Tech Layoffs: The Scorecard." But after some complaints from readers, they also added "The Spreadsheet of Sunshine," which shows who is hiring in IT.

We at Windows IT Pro like to focus on how to make things work (like Group Policy, and replication, and Exchange migration, and PowerShell, and network monitoring and--you get the picture). So I propose a third spreadsheet—"The Spreadsheet of Smart Things to Do While You're Still Employed." In it, I'd put these entries, for starters:

  • If you haven't already, get registered on LinkedIn or some other business networking site.
  • Figure out how you could live on one income if you had to.
  • Learn about a technology you haven't dealt with before.
  • Get better at fixing computer hardware.
  • Investigate what it would take to start moonlighting.
  • Start exercising before or after work to blow off stress.
  • Get a subscription to Windows IT Pro now, while you still have discretionary income.

Oh. You spied the self-serving one at the end. Well, that's a metaphor for another tip: Toot your own horn. Too often, IT pros hang in the background, make the fixes, grumble about how management doesn't understand how important they are, and feel embittered when management lays them off. Management doesn't know what you do--management just wants the email and the website to work and the auditors to leave without hassling them. So here's another entry for the list: Help management see how you help management.

Oh, heck, let's go beyond spreadsheets. Toolkits are cooler. I'll bet you already have a toolkit to help you weather tough times. I know I do. For example, in my toolkit I've got Adobe Photoshop and InCopy,this website, my blog, Freecycle.org, tons of bookmarked websites, the Chicago Manual of Style, bicycling to work and back, and more. What's in your toolkit?