Coping with the Downturn

As unemployment numbers keep climbing without an end in sight, many people are wondering if their jobs are safe or if they are next in the line in case of a layoff. People often ask me if they should be looking for a job even if they are fully employed. Is the best way to cope with the downturn is by lining up new jobs – just in case? No one knows what the future holds, and every individual situation is very different. If your company is going under or has announced a pending lay-off, you should definitely spend some time to update that resume, and look at the job boardsto see what’s available in your area and expertise. Reach out to your network and start to get a sense of what you will have to do in case the worst happens and you lose your job. With that said, however, most people would be better served by beginning to increase their value to their employers, as insurance for when layoffs do start. Most companies aren’t going to go completely out of business and will need people to run their businesses after the layoffs. So they will start identifying their most valuable employees and make sure that they stay. This is the time to make yourself more valuable to your current employer so, recession or not, you can remain and continue to build your career. So how do you go about creating value for yourself at your current job? Here are a few things you can do.

  1. Learn New Skills This is the most important one. When an employee becomes stagnant, they become expendable. If you don’t continue to improve yourself and your base of expertise, you won’t be able to take on the new types of projects that will continue to make you valuable to your employer.
  2. Stop Waste To create value in a recession, you need to focus more on how to help the company, rather than how to help yourself. Saving money is a great way to do that. Cut unnecessary travel. Stop taking lunch on the company. Cut back on paper consumption. Identify company-wide money saving strategies, and then spearhead their implementation. If you’re seen as a person with an eye on the bottom line, you’re less likely to be laid off.
  3. Volunteer for Projects There is nothing more valuable than an employee who will take on more projects and pick up the slack, especially with an ever shrinking workforce. Offer to take on the responsibilities of a laid-off co-worker. Run new initiatives “until a permanent hire can be found.” If you can extend your sphere of influence around the company, then it will be hard to fire you, because multiple people will need to replace you.
  4. Get Noticed Unperceived value is no value at all. Now is the time to make sure that your manager and their bosses know how good you really are. Advertise your volunteerism. Be there in the morning to say hello to the Vice President when he or she arrives, and say good-bye when they pass your desk on their way home. Reply to all at midnight. Make sure that the people in charge of layoffs have seen your value.

There are many other ways to increase your value, but these are a good start. At the end of the day, you don’t want to be looking for a back-up job just in case you lose yours but because you want to get to that dream career. So instead of focusing your energy on finding a back-up in case you get fired, focus on how to become more valuable in your current.

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