The easiest way to avoid looking for a job in this tricky economic climate is to keep the one you’ve already got. Susan Moir shares how to make yourself invaluable and improve your job security.
Question: “A friend of mine was laid off from her job a few months ago, and she is having trouble finding work. I am worried that in the current economic climate the same thing could happen to me. Is there anything I can do to improve my job security?”
With the Reserve Bank flagging concerns about job security as one of the chief reasons Australians have gone cool on the real estate market it is only natural to be feeling this way. It’s a gloomy picture and workers are worried. What do you do in a job you already have if you want to get ready for a downswing in the economy?
The more valuable you are to the company for which you work, the less likely they’ll want to let you go if they are forced to make changes. Here are six tips to make sure you are valuable.
- Specialise. People think that if there are fewer jobs available then having more skills makes someone more employable. It’s a misconception. Employers tend to hold out for the perfect fit in a tight market. If you are not clearly a specialist, then you are not going to be a perfect fit for anything. Engage in some focused, short-term projects that will allow you to market yourself as a specialist in something.
- Know your signature strengths. Understand your strengths, weaknesses and key differentiators. What makes you special and stand out from everyone else? Then find opportunities that build on those strengths.
- Make sure you do something great soon. Keep your résumé updated, especially when you complete key projects or meet major milestones. If job loss is pending you need to make sure that you don’t end up with any blank spots in your CV. So do something right away that you will be able to quantify as an achievement in this most recent job.
- Focus on the quality of work and learn new skills. Expand your horizons and grow professionally by signing yourself up for internal training opportunities. Put up your hand to participate in projects, particularly ones that will make a real difference to the business or which are being sponsored by a senior executive. Lay aside any concerns about being in the perfect job for you and think about changing industry or location when the job market gets better.
- Begin networking outside of the company. Statistics show that most jobs are found through direct contacts and referrals from networking. Don’t wait until you lose your job to decide it is time to start building a network. Opportunities come from people, but it takes time to cultivate relationships. You can’t wait until you need a job to look for people to help you. You need a supportive group of people in advance. People with strong networks are less exposed to the cycles of the economy.
- Stay focused on the internal relationships that matter. By cultivating great relationships in your current job, you can weather an economic downturn. Avoid chatter in the office of the negative predictions of economic doom. Focus on the positive conversations with your boss and important others that build solid relationships. Keep a list that shows the projects and actions you are completing and what you have achieved. Review it regularly with your manager. This is not a time for false modesty.
Companies downsize and jobs come and go. By keeping optimistic and focused on what you are good at you may find that security is alive and well in you, not in a job or a company.
The New Job Security, Revised: the 5 best strategies for taking control of your career
Ten Speed Press; revised edition 2010
Most people think about apps running on their smartphones. Here is an article about LinkedIn apps which help with networking. www.fastcompany.com