Job Security Tips

Is there such a thing as job security? Not really. Not even dictators have it these days, as we have seen recently. On the other hand, there are some jobs that are more secure than others, and there are things you can do to make any job more secure. That latter goal is addressed in the following excerpt from "The Survival Guide for Interesting Times."


Make Your Job More Secure

There is no ultimate security in a job (or in any one source of income for that matter). On the other hand, there are certainly things that you can do to make losing your job less likely. Here are some of the steps you can take.

Know the Boss

It will always be easier for a manager or boss to let employees go when he or she doesn't know them. In fact, however fair we all like to think we are being, if we were managers of a large company and had to choose which half of the employees to dismiss, most of us would find reasons to keep some of the employees we know better while letting go the more anonymous ones. So be sure that whoever may have to make such decisions at some point knows you.

More than that; let them know if you have children or other people who rely on you to provide for them. Do this in a very subtle way though. You don't want to be seen as a complainer. That brings us to the next important point.

Don't Be a Complainer

In good times bosses tolerate employees who whine and complain all the time, as long as they do their jobs. But they are often secretly wishing they could get rid of such workers. They can as soon as they need to make cutbacks, so don't be a whiner. Accept all assignments without complaint. The work has to be done after all, and if you really don't want to do it you should be looking for another job. Tolerate any problems at work in silence. Get along with other employees too.

Do the Dirty Work

If there are tasks that everyone hates to do, you might want to volunteer for them. In fact, see if there is anything that your immediate superiors dislike doing, and offer to do that for them. This will make you more popular with the people who you need to be popular with.

Avoid Dark Humor

Humor in general is a sensitive area in the modern workplace, given all the ways in which people are offended. But so called "gallows humor" that involves jokes about the company and the hard times it's facing, is the worst from the perspective of job security. Suppose you had two employees working for you. One is always making snide remarks about the company while the other is optimistic and refrains from negative humor. Which one would seem most helpful to the future of the business?

Arrive Early and Stay Late

If you arrive a few minutes before your boss and leave just after her every day, you will be remembered favorably. You also will have a better grasp of what's going on at work, since many important conversations happen just at the start of and the end of the day.

Don't Be a Slacker

Perhaps nothing can form a bad impression of you in the mind of your boss faster than him catching you doing nothing, or worse. Don't play video games on your computer at work. Don't shop online. Don't make long personal phone calls. And if you do any of the above, don't get caught.

Know the Right People

If there are key people in the company that are likely to be consulted by those who make firing decisions, get to know them. Make a good impression. Ask them what you can do better, and then follow through on their recommendations.
If your employer has a human resources department, make a friend or two there. These are the people who will likely know about coming changes in the company long before others do. For example, they can warn you if a given department will face lay-offs, so you can transfer to a more secure part of the company.

Make Your Value Evident

Companies lay off employees for one primary reason: To save money. If it is clear that you produce far more value than the cost of your wages, they are much more likely to keep you around. This is easiest to demonstrate if you have a sales position and do well. After all, who would want to lose an employee that cost only $50,000 per year but added double that to the bottom line?

What if you're in a position where your value isn't so easily measured? Doing a good job in general is a good start, but there is another way to show your value besides increasing company revenue. It is to find ways to reduce costs. List all areas that you know something about, and find ways to reduce expenditures in each of them. Periodically present your findings to your superiors and help implement changes if you can.

Be Irreplaceable

Of course, no one is truly irreplaceable in an employment situation. But the closer you are to that goal, the better. For example, if you are the only one who can keep the office computer system running, your boss will hesitate to lay you off. Keep in mind, though, that this is a strategy for tough times. If you are irreplaceable in good times, you may be passed over for promotions for the same reason.

Watch for Signs

Naturally it is helpful to notice whether lay-offs are likely, so you can get that resume ready. But it is also a good idea to watch for signs that your division or your particular position might become obsolete. Then you might be able to transfer to another department or position before it is too late.

Negotiate Your Layoff

If the time comes and you are told that you're being let go, consider negotiating something better. For example, ask the boss if you can work part-time instead, for less pay. Ask if there is a position you can transfer to with a small pay cut. In bad recessions it is better to keep your job in one form or another than collect unemployment. You can always look for a better job in the meantime.

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