By Julie Desmond
Say "career planning" and most people immediately think of applications, resumes, interviews and salary negotiations. But with the news buzzing about our volatile economy, the housing market changing and massive layoffs happening at companies across the country, this might be a good time to think about keeping the job you have. Say "career planning" and most people immediately think of applications, resumes, interviews and salary negotiations. But with the news buzzing about our volatile economy, the housing market changing and massive layoffs happening at companies across the country, this might be a good time to think about keeping the job you have.
When companies let go of reliable, long-tenured employees, this is most often the result of serious business decisions, impacting those who stay as much as those who go. As you work through the next several months, keep in mind that reliability, flexibility and availability will go a long way toward saving you a place on the payroll week after rocky week.
If you have had scheduling issues in the past, now is the time to structure your routine so that others know you are reliable. Be on time and stay until your work is completed, even if you have to sacrifice a snooze in the morning or miss out on a happy hour after work. Don't make commitments lightly; pay attention to deadlines and meet or beat expectations every time. Let people know what you are going to do, do it, and then let them know you've done it. People who are reliable can be trusted to accomplish necessary tasks when the distractions of a restructuring occur. Be dependable.
Flexibility is key when staffing needs vary dramatically from month to month. Look for opportunities to collaborate with others outside your own department. If you are familiar with other groups and their projects, you might be able to move from one area to another, possibly dodging a layoff. Learning new skills and putting those skills to work wherever possible will communicate to others that you are adaptable and willing to retool. Be flexible and let people see that you are open to change.
Now that more than 40% of Minnesotans are working at least part of the time from remote locations, face time can be invaluable. Simply showing up in the office and getting to know your co-workers will put you ahead from a relationship standpoint when a decision has to be made about cost savings. Consider putting off your two week vacation for now, and avoid sick days if possible. Just show up. Be available for overtime projects and extra duties. You may feel overwhelmed when asked to do the work of the six or eight others who were forced to leave, but with every new burden you take on you become more connected to the company. Remind yourself and your loved ones that you are carrying an extra load (or two) but that it is only a short term situation. History tells us that an economic downturn is always temporary and will lead, inevitably, to an upswing. Hang in there for now.
Are you positive and upbeat? When times are tough, employers want to be around people whose glasses are half full – people who keep their criticism to themselves. Support a positive work environment; be the person who fixes the copier rather than complains about how it jams all the time, make coffee sometimes, clean up after yourself, stay organized and cheerful. You are not being paid to fret, gossip or gripe; get your work done and avoid the complainers who want to draw you into negative conversations.
Layoffs generally are not personal. But keep in mind that behind every pink slip is a human being, a decision maker. Someone faced with the difficult decision to downsize a team or organization will look at every possible means of keeping effective people on staff. By making yourself valuable on multiple levels, you stand a better chance of staying onboard rather than going overboard during stormy economic times.