With things so up in the air with our economy right now, it’s a good idea to have a job plan B in case you need one. Hopefully, you’ve explored ways to make extra money and have learned how to network. If things turn sour for you, those two skills will come in very handy and developing them will seem like a very wise decision in hindsight.
If you sense that your position may be in jeopardy, don’t sit back and depend on “hope” to get your through. You need a job plan B and, although no job protection plan is foolproof, there are some definite steps you can take to help you weather the storm.
1. Determine what you’re good at and what you’re passionate about. Ask yourself the 20 Questions and be willing to make some decisions quickly if the need arises.
2. Learn more about who you are and what motivates you. There are scores of different personality tests out there from DISC Analysis to Meyers-Briggs to PTSI. The key is to find out what motivates you, how you respond to pressure, and what types of positions will bring out your best performance. Knowing yourself will help you decide what types of other jobs you might jump to in case yours goes south.
3. Update your resume. Be positive, but above all be honest. Don’t stretch the truth on your education, your accomplishments, who you reported to, your responsibilities, or anything else about your career. Unless you have no concept of the written word, don’t pay someone else to rewrite your resume. Go to the library and check out the dozens of books on writing a good one and read them! And don’t waste your money on those “resume blasting” services that supposedly send your resume out to 10,000 executive recruiters and HR professionals. They don’t work and they don’t give refunds. Trust me.
4. Always have a Grrrr-reat! attitude at work. The single biggest thing you can control IS your attitude and it will have a tremendous impact on how others think of you. It is much easier for the “hatchet person” to target a sour, negative, ill-tempered person for termination than a cheerful, upbeat person who is constructive and creative.
5. Never fly under the radar. “Under the radar” doesn’t exist. When the time comes for cutbacks, the radar goes all the way to the ground…and then some. Every person, every project is being assessed and every person’s name is on the “sheet.” If you’re invisible, it’s pretty easy to say, “I won’t miss him.” Instead, you have to find ways to be visible in a positive way. Keep doing your job well and using your time wisely. Now’s the time to shine.
Dig your well before you’re thirsty.
6. Learn to be a switch hitter. If you are in information technology, take a business class. If you’re in customer service, take a class on purchasing. If you’re in accounting, learn all you can about marketing. The key is to have more value to your organization (and other organizations) than in just one area or department. I’m in operations, but I have an MBA that concentrated in marketing.
7. Remember that NO company wants layoffs or cutbacks. In an ideal world, there would be no business cycles, we would just get more and more profitable and no one would ever lose a job unwillingly. But we don’t live in an ideal world. If you can show some empathy toward your boss in an honest and supportive way, you may be able to salvage your job or at least get a great reference for your next interview. Don’t burn bridges. You may have to retreat back across them someday.
8. Network. Network. Network. Get on LinkedIn, get your Rolodex, your contacts file, your collection of business cards and make some phone calls to see what’s available that might be a match for you. There ARE jobs out there, but the competition for them is becoming more intense. NOW’S the time to call in favors or seek help from people you’ve developed a relationship with. Don’t be shy.
9. Consider a creative leap. If the inevitable happens and you do lose your job, consider moving to a different kind of job. This could be your chance to start fresh. Maybe this is your chance at entrepreneurship. Don’t waste time in self pity, blame, or anything other than enough anger to force yourself to get out there and get something done.
So many times, what we think intuitively is the right thing to do, isn’t. Don’t “fly under the radar,” don’t talk bad about the company with everyone in the break room, don’t ignore what motivates and inspires you. Instead, stand out. Be seen as a positive, breath of fresh air, and maybe, just maybe, the powers that be will decide they would rather have you around than anyone else.