As the US economy descends into a seemingly deeper recession, axes are crashing on workers’ desks and corporate balance sheets are oozing with red ink. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, massive corporate layoffs left 152,816 workers without jobs in the U.S. for the month of the December alone. Throughout 2010, the economic downturn left 3,800 employees from Wells Fargo without jobs. 700 employees were laid off from Yahoo! right before Christmas. In the past year, 12,349 hospital employees across the nation have lost their jobs due to our volatile economy. In the past 6 months, 7,300 attorneys have lost their jobs as well due to our economic climate.
In the midst of such a nefarious maelstrom of corporate downsizing, what are we to do to protect our jobs? How can we prevent the hatchet from falling on our necks?
Step One: Engage in Self – Promotion
To avoid being downsized, it is preeminent to perpetually take inventory of your accomplishments and to confidently articulate your achievements. Kristen Dixson, author of Career Distinction: Stand Out By Building Your Brand writes, “If you’re flying under the radar, you’re going to be the first to be eliminated.” If you’re not intrepid in claiming your achievements, promoting yourself, and consistently proving your worth, it will be impossible to grow and thrive in your career.
In these challenging economic times, it is important to craft a value proposition that succinctly crystallizes the unique value you have to bring to the corporation. If you have been hired based on your abilities of growing and innovating new lines of business, you may need to alter your value proposition to prove you are as adept at cost cutting as you are in idea generation.
Although communicating how you have enhanced revenue is high on the list, it is equally important to promote how you have mitigated risks, enhanced efficiency and productivity, and achieved significant cost savings.
Step Two: Give Yourself a Competitive Edge
When layoffs seem inevitable, career management consultants advise to learn as much about your company as possible. Employees should strive to discern the challenges and various functions of the organization. The more you can grasp, the more versatile and valuable you will be. By taking the initiative to volunteer at staff events or to partake in committees, you will have the opportunity to learn about other departments. In doing so, you will arm yourself with the knowledge and understanding needed to transfer to a different department, if needed.
You will also elevate your value and career security even more if you engage in continuing education to sharpen your skills, expand your portfolio of capabilities, and prepare yourself for future technologies. Acquiring new certifications and growing your knowledge base will demonstrate your ambition and enable you to more fully participate in the strategic direction of the business unit.
Step Three: Be Positive and Enthusiastic
Although acknowledging the need for a plan to survive layoffs requires “pessimistic realism”, the most astute choice you can make in these circumstances is to embrace a positive attitude and to envision a favorable future for yourself. Viktor Frankl wrote in Man’s Search for Meaning that freedom is found simply through a transformation of perspective. Change your attitude and viewpoint of an unstable economy into an opportunity to appreciate your career and a motivation to immerse yourself more completely into your company with determination to make a difference in the lives of others with your work.
Furthermore, there is nothing more powerful and productive than positively focusing on the needs of your customers. Anticipating and caring for the needs of your customers, both external and internal, should be your top priority. Your job is less likely to be eliminated if your clientele find your services and contributions to be vital to their success and satisfaction.
Step Four: Wear Multiple Hats
To heighten your chances of survival, embrace your inner Bartholomew Cubbins, the Dr. Seuss character who wore 500 different hats. Reorganizations and consolidations involve tremendous change, which requires versatile professionals. In many companies, senior staff members are often expected to play more than one role in order to control expenses as well.
If you’re not already wearing multitudinous hats in one job, begin brainstorming methods in which you can support and grow your company with talents, experiences, or special interests your boss may not have previous knowledge of. A recession offers endless opportunities to capitalize on your various capabilities and create training programs, revised performance methodologies, and new opportunities.
Step Five: Be A Team Player
Joanne C. Dustin, a certified career coach, says, “These times require cooperation, flexibility, and willingness to go the extra mile.” Thus, playing well with others is critical when downsizing is being executed in an enterprise. Prima donnas who cause melodrama or dissension will be the first on the chopping block when an organization is struggling. Nurturing healthy relationships with both your co-workers and your boss demonstrates emotional intelligence and maturity, which is invaluable to a company during times of trouble.
Also, let it be known that you are willing to help others who may be overloaded at the moment. Along with assisting others in addition to your own workload, be willing to even put in a Saturday to get it done. Volunteering to work on a weekend makes an amazing impact on those in charge of making the tough decisions about terminations.
Step Six: Be Visible & Engaged
Lack of visibility in your corporation is a sure fire way to become expendable. According to Florence Fass of the New York Law Journal, empathy plays a significant role in the termination process. She says, “ The better known you are both personally and professionally, the greater the empathy factor and the more hesitant the decision becomes when deciding who to cut.”
Therefore, remember Woody Allen’s advice that 80% of success is merely showing up. Go to the voluntary and informal meetings you used to skip. Without hindering your efficiency and productivity, get out of your office to walk the floor and see how people are doing. Seize opportunities for collaboration and facilitate harmony and communication between departments. Openly express support for the decisions made by upper management and congratulate others on their various successes and achievements on a daily basis. In other words, become a vital “corporate citizen” within your organization.
Step Seven: Update Your Resume
Formulate a backup plan by contacting a professional resume writing service company, such as Words Prevail, LLC , who has certified writers composing powerful resumes according to the standards and methodologies of the Professional Association of Resume Writers. Studies reveal that hiring managers only take 15 seconds to review a resume, thus you must seize this opportunity with the most powerful marketing document possible.
The process of having your resume professionally composed is both an empowering and eye-opening experience, which shall fortify your ability to more effectively communicate your value and give you a competitive edge.
Ultimately, in order to save your job in a recession, fulfill career coach Stephanski Plouffe’s advice: “ Be ready for whatever change may come up. If you can develop an attitude that nothing is going to stay the same and that your organization and your job will always be in flux, that will help you cope.”
~ Victoria Andrew, CPRW and Owner/Director of Words Prevail, LLC