Sunday, February 8, 2009

Recession proofing your job

With the daily news filled with a never ending supply of companies laying people off, what are the steps you're going to take to make sure that your job is safe? Canada may not officially be in a recession, but the US sure is and that means we're not far behind. Not only are we headed for a recession, but because we're mainly a commodity based economy here in Canada, there will be a lag in the recovery in relation to that of the United States. I expect that means we'll be in for a long down turn and it's important to think about what you'll do to make sure you keep that job of yours.

From Anne Fisher's "8 ways to recession-proof your job"

Think of ways to generate revenues or cut costs. That brilliant idea you had that would open whole new markets for the company, but require substantial spending to get started? Scrap it for now. Concentrate instead on finding places to pinch pennies, or identifying cheap new sources of revenue. Or both.

Be visible. "This isn't the moment to take an extended vacation. Your position could be eliminated while you're gone," says Dale Winston, CEO of New York City-based executive recruiters Battalia Winston ( "It's also not the time to come rolling in at ten o'clock." If you possibly can, figure out a way to stand out and distinguish yourself. She adds: "If you're in sales, get your numbers up. Nobody will be laying off star salespeople."

Talk up your contributions. "Make sure you're adding value at work by going above and beyond your basic job responsibilities," says Christine Price, principal at staffing firm Ready to Hire ( "Then make sure your boss knows it, without being obnoxious."

Keep a broad perspective. "Don't get a reputation as someone who only does what he or she is told to do," advises Richard Bayer, chief operating officer of career counseling network The Five O'Clock Club ( "Pick your head up, look around, and get in on the action. Volunteer for crucial responsibilities, including tasks for which your boss is responsible."

Just doing your job well isn't enough. "The question is," says Bayer, "when your organization is making a list of who has crucial skills, will you be on it?" If you suspect not, now's the time to hustle.

Get your skills up to date. "Companies get rid of people whose skills are obsolete and replace them with people who are already trained," Bayer says. "Take classes, join trade organizations, and prove you're plugged in." Christine Price adds: "Consider going back to school, to show your employer you're serious about your career and your performance."

No whining allowed. Attitude does count - a lot. "Management wants people who can boost morale during tough times," observes Dale Winston. Not only that, says Christine Price, but happy workers are less likely to get laid off than people who seem to dislike what they do. After all, the reasoning goes, if you grumble about your job all the time, then maybe giving you the sack would really be doing you a favor. Gulp.

Never stop networking. Of course, the day you get a pink slip is not the day you want to start calling old colleagues, asking former bosses out to lunch, and getting in touch to say hello to all the interesting people you've known over the years. No, the time to start doing that is now. Whether or not you move seamlessly (and relatively painlessly) into a new job after a layoff often depends on how consistently you've contacted - and maybe even helped - lots of people when you didn't need them.

Update your resume, return headhunters' phone calls, and start picturing where else you might like to work - just in case. If you're mentally prepared for a move, you'll make a wiser one than if you wait until you're desperate (read canned).

Remember, even the best run companies with tonnes of money in the bank will evetually have to start looking at where to trim back if this downturn lasts as long as those negative types seem to be saying it will. Make sure you're not one of those people that end up without a seat when the music stops playing.


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