How Do I Keep My Job In Economic Uncertainty?
Congratulations! You have a job during a time of unprecedented layoffs and economic uncertainty. Before you breathe a sigh of relief, have you thought about how you will keep your position? If we know anything, it is that change happens quickly. So how do you solidify your role if economic headwinds continue to blow?
Have you become a dinosaur?
As we become entrenched in the daily activities of our job year after year, we can slide into auto pilot. Unfortunately, often times our skills don’t keep up with the needs of our industry or profession. Have you taken any online courses lately? There is a massive amount of free material to make us better at our jobs and enhance our skill set. In addition, consider getting a professional certification, advanced degree, or taking work related classes to set yourself apart from your peers. There are a multitude of ways to satisfy your intellectual curiosity while showing your employer you have value to add that will drive business and results. Your initiative will ultimately make you more marketable to the organization. Learning is a lifelong journey.
Do you operate in the comfort zone?
Have you ever seen anyone perform the same exact job function for 20 years? Not only could that be stifling and boring, it won’t get you recognized by your employer. After all, its likely other people possess the same skills you do after all this time (and at a lower salary). Consider volunteering for special projects and teams as well as new initiatives and tasks. Stretch yourself to take on new workplace challenges. In addition, look around you for opportunities to drive business and innovate. Is there an area/department that is struggling? Could a new business idea help overall production and results? If you have a great recommendation for your company, produce the framework for that idea and create a workable model. Your boss will recognize and appreciate the pioneer spirit, and you might even find yourself in a new role!
How does the boss rate your performance?
Some companies are diligent about reviews and others don’t excel at formal feedback. Do you think you are the top ranked performer? What if your supervisor thinks differently? We have all encountered peers who think they are doing a great job, but the company views them with a different lens. Unveil the mystery before it’s too late! Request a formal review with your management if you have not had one. Ask for candid feedback. How can you improve and excel? What are your strengths and weaknesses? How do you rank among others in your team? Asking for a ranking will crystallize your performance – the bottom 20% is not where you want to find yourself! Address problems now and implement actions to improve every day. Set a future follow up with your supervisor to track your progress. Aren’t you glad you asked instead of making assumptions?
How is your professional network?
Whether you want to stay at your current job forever or find a new role next year, have you fostered your professional network? Have you experienced a former coworker extend the “let’s stay in touch” platitude as they leave only to contact you 8 years later when they need a job? It happens all too often, and many of us are guilty as charged. Let’s make it a point to retire this bad habit! Take a sincere interest in your network of current and former colleagues and get together formally at professional association events and informally at social events. Not only is it the right thing to do, it will pay dividends to everyone as we help each other navigate our career challenges. Even if you never need to find a new job, your network of associates can help you in your current role and vice versa. We all have different strengths and skills! It takes time and commitment, but make it a goal to contact a specific number of people per month. Even a catch up on LinkedIn is a great thing.
Have you examined your mindset?
How is your attitude at work? Have you become a malcontent? Do you consistently voice your displeasure and complain to peers? You may not even notice it, but other people do – especially your boss. Take stock of what you like about your job and focus on the positive. Remember that perfection is hard to capture and sustain! Think about how you can address a less than ideal situation instead of lament it. Set forth ideas and recommendations to target areas that need improvement vs. a complaint. Introduce these ideas to your boss in the spirit of problem solving, teamwork, and cooperation. Have you ever noticed a worker(s) with an average performance and a great “can do” attitude? These individuals often thrive in an organization over more capable people with a less desirable disposition. Always be mindful of your mindset!
Do you embrace change?
Evaluate how you approach your duties and responsibilities on a day-to-day basis. Downturns can present multiple opportunities for advancement. Strive to differentiate yourself from the peer group and use a challenging environment to develop and illustrate your potential.