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How Do You Hold on to Your Job During a Recession? by Philip Finane

With literally thousand's of people loosing their jobs on a daily basis around the globe it is a tremendously fearful time for the majority of workers. How many of us over the last twelve months haven't wondered at one time or other "is my job safe?" How many of us have delayed or postponed major plans in our life because ultimately, these plans are under pinned by the security and knowledge that we must have a paycheck to pay for it?

Unfortunately way too many of us know first hand someone who has been made redundant in recent months (Redundant - what a horrible word). The Oxford English Dictionary describes the word as:

"Redundant - adjective 1 not or no longer needed or useful; superfluous. 2 made unemployed because one's job is superfluous to requirements".

This description doesn't get anywhere close to describing the initial shock, fear and often helplessness experienced by those of us who have ever been affected by redundancy. Yet with a bleak out look for many, the show must go on. What is the alternative? While the very real prospect of job loss hangs over many a head, business and commerce must continue (Otherwise we may as well all shut up shop and go home... no?).

As workers in the midst of the worst ever global recession it is very easy to loose our way and find ourselves caught up in all of this recession related noise. In many cases this will be impossible to do as a company (in a global down turn) is either profitable or it isn't. It's fundamentals are either sound or they're not. The owners and stake holders of the business will either stay committed to riding out the recession or they won't.

But lets assume your company is making a profit, it's direction and fundamentals are rock solid and the powers that be are committed. Let's face it... As employees we are still NOT out of the woods. In recession time (especially this one) the majority of companies, even healthy ones, are always looking to trim the fat. No matter how well things are going, the profit margin can always be better (Any most companies use down turns and recessions to drop unproductive and over paid employees).

So how can we insulate ourselves against loosing our job? Is there a way?

During this recession many questions will be asked of you by your employer (Many not to your face). So lets face facts, like never before employees are under tremendous scrutiny whether they like it or not. Over the next number of months the following questions may be asked of you (If they haven't already). Are you a useful member of the team? Are you contributing enough and pulling your weight? Are you putting in enough hours? Are you hitting your financial targets? Are you maintaining your productivity output? (I could go on!)

The facts are simple, nothing should be as high of a priority as keeping your job. Your income is everything and you must do everything you can to keep and maintain it. Here are a couple of tips to try ensure you keep your job during a recession. If you work for a company that is affected by an economic slowdown (just about every company if honest), there is a huge chance there will be cuts coming in some shape or form. The key is to position yourself so that when their are cuts in your department or team, your name is not in the drop zone.

Increased Visibility

In my first job in a Management Consultancy many years ago my Director told me something I will never forget. He said "it's not what you do, it's what you're seen to be doing...". Of course he was speaking about maximising clients when it came to billing and to this day he was indeed the worst boss I've ever had. But, that comment (In many different contexts) has always stuck with me and I've seen it materialise in either people I've managed or people I worked with so many times over the years. It's unfortunate but in the corporate world it is indeed not what you do but what your seen to be doing which can often be the difference between success and (well...) less success.

Getting ahead and staying ahead in a company is more times than you'd probably like to admit more about image management rather than functional and skill-set ability. To those of you that don't agree, when was your last promotion? Take this scenario as a given: Two employees apply for one internal job slot and a promotion. Both have the same technical ability, both have the same level and years of experience. On paper both seem like good solid candidates for the job. BUT, there is a favourite. Is it the visible employee that is seen to be putting himself out there for others, clients, customers etc. The guy (or girl) that socialises and participates, getting involved at any opportunity? Or is it the non-visible employee that does the bare minimum asked of him, who works to rule and doesn't put himself out there?

OK, that might seem a little bit over simplified, but it illustrates my point. Other peoples perception of you is a big component in managing your outward image in the workplace. The promotional scenario above can be flipped and be brought bang up to date. Rather than a promotion, the interview could be the prelude to a potential redundancy situation. Two employees, one job, who stays, who joins the unemployment queue?

Being positively visible within an organisation is an important component in managing others perception of you. Delivering real added value is one thing, but it must be seen, recognised and acknowledged by decision makers above you. On the assumption that a business is going to steer its way successfully through the recession by cutting jobs in some areas (ultimately wage bills); demonstrating your value to the company by increasing your visibility goes a long way to convincing decision makers that you are someone they need to keep.

Be pro-active. Scheduled an informal meeting with your supervisor and simply ask what else you can do to help out? Tell your boss that you understand that each person might be expected to do more at a time like this, and you are definitely willing to take on additional projects, responsibilities or tasks. Don't say you are willing to do this because you don't want to get fired, but inform them that you welcome the additional responsibility to assist the greater good of the company and are willing and interested in gaining the additional experience.

Increased Performance

If you become more visible, you must back it up with your performance otherwise you might have been better off not being so visible (it's a double edged sword). Do what it takes to do excellent work on every task or project you participant in and even go the extra mile when possible.


Philip Finane is the owner and director of Direct Source Network. A recruitment service that works closely a growing number of International companies that requires Senior level Expats for overseas assignments. For more information, visit [the website www.directsource-network.com cannot be found].

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