Phew. You survived the culling. Or maybe your company has managed to avoid a mass layoff. Either way, you’re one of the lucky ones.
Unlike so many of your friends and family, you won’t have to deal with the unemployment office or cancel your cable—yet.
But instead of sitting smugly at your desk, you should be thinking about what you can do (right now!) to make yourself absolutely indispensable.
Having a job is not a civil right. Everyone is vulnerable to cutbacks. Now is not the time for complacency. The good news is there are lots of steps you can take to help safeguard your position. And who knows? You may even end up with a promotion!
If you want to be the last person they would consider letting go, follow our ten tips.
1. Save your company money.
Do you have an idea for how your company can cut costs? Pitch it!
Whether it’s moving toward soft copy to save on printer paper or a killer idea to streamline your supply chain, now is the time to show management you understand the importance of the bottom line.
Even if they don’t adopt your brilliant plan, they’ll respect your eye for savings and appreciate your effort.
2. Be positive.
No one wants to work with a Negative Nancy. Ever. And especially not now. Bad news abounds, and frankly, everyone is really tired of it.
So instead of complaining about the state of the economy, rising gas prices, or your in-laws, focus on the positive. Share on-the-job success stories. Be optimistic about your company and focus on steps you can take to have a positive impact on its future.
Share good news (when you come across it). Make jokes where appropriate. Smile.
Things can’t be that bad for you. You still have a job, remember?
3. Work longer hours
I’m not suggesting you stay until midnight. I’m not even suggesting you miss prime time. What I am suggesting is that you be prepared to stay until the task at hand is finished.
In the past, you might have left work at 5 p.m., just short of completing something (reasoning that you’d finish it up in the morning). Nowadays, it’s good practice to stick around that extra half-hour or hour it takes to get it done.
You may also consider coming in fifteen minutes early so that you can get yourself organized before the workday begins. You don’t want to be the girl who’s scrambling to start up her laptop in time for the 9 a.m. meeting.
4. Be a leader.
You might not have a manager’s job title, but that doesn’t mean you can’t act like you do.
Being a leader means helping others. It means understanding the bigger picture. It means being vocal about possible improvements and thinking not just about yourself and your position, but about the overall goals of the organization.
Companies need leaders. Right now, you need to be needed. If you’ve got leadership qualities you’ve been sitting on, now is the time to let them emerge.
5. Steer clear of gossip.
News travels fast, especially juicy news. Well, guess what? If you heard it, chances are your manager did, too. And if you play any part in its proliferation, chances are your manager will know that, too.
As tempting as it can be, don’t get sucked into office gossip. As soon as you do, you implicate yourself, make enemies, and come off as unprofessional. If someone else insists on telling you something, make sure it stops with you.
The workplace might sometimes feel like high school, but it isn’t (thank God!). The ramifications of being the office gossip are a lot more serious than detention or a missed birthday party invite.
6. Enhance your skill set.
You’ve got what it takes to do the job you’re doing. Obviously.
But why not enhance your skill set to make yourself even more valuable to your team? Or better at your job? Faster? Maybe learning some basic HTML or Photoshop would allow you to take on the task of creating your company newsletter?
Whatever your industry, there is always room for improvement. Now is a great time to explore any additional skills that will turn you into an indispensable employee. And with so much information out there, you can do so at a minimal cost. If you can’t afford to take a night class, buy a book (or check one out from the library!) or take an online tutorial.
And once you become a master at your chosen skill, you can offer to lead a workshop for the entire team. Voilà. You’ve just become a leader!
7. Work well with others.
It may sound cheesy, but think of your workforce as a family. After all, you spend eight hours a day together, you depend on each other for the survival of the business, and you have no choice but to at least tolerate one another
Now more than ever, effective collaboration is seen as a key driver of success. So put aside differences in age, background, and interests and learn how to communicate effectively with your teammates.
It’s not just the company’s survival that depends on it—it’s your own.
8. Watch your back.
Think your boss doesn’t notice all those personal calls? Or how much time you spend on Twitter? Think again. Often, they’re paying closer attention than you think. And if ever they suspect you’re wasting their time, they can easily look up phone, email, or Internet records.
Now is not the time to be sloppy about personal communications on the job.
Depending on your office, it might be okay to take the occasional, quick phone call or to send an email or two on your lunch break. But if you’re on Gmail every time your boss walks up to your desk, you’re asking for trouble.
9. Keep time off to a minimum.
If you’ve got strep throat, stay home. Is your sister getting married? Go ahead and take a few days off (the wrath of Bridezilla = scarier than being fired).
It’s not that you shouldn’t take time off. It’s just that you should try and be a little more particular about your reasons, especially if your company is experiencing cutbacks. Don’t call in sick for a hangover or plan any long, extravagant vacations (at least until the waters settle).
A weeklong trip to the Bahamas sounds fun, but coming back to no job will be anything but.
10. Be visible.
Modesty is a sweet quality. Except, of course, in a recession.
If you’re working late, helping others, and/or coming up with new, killer ideas, make sure someone (other than your mother) knows about it.
Give your manager regular updates on your progress. Even a weekly or semi-weekly recap of your accomplishments, sent by email, will do the trick. You’re not bragging, you’re just making sure they know what you’ve been working on.
Let’s face it: if you don’t toot your own horn, no one else will.
By Tania Khadder for Excelle