By: Joe Turner
While on the job, do you feel the hot breath of an economic downturn blowing down your neck?
With all the turmoil in the economy, it’s easy to get fixated on doom and gloom, but you don’t need to panic. Here are five steps to help increase your “employee value” and avoid that pink slip:
Make money or save money?
The private sector economy has become extremely bottom-line oriented. Employers categorize employees into one of two distinct groups:
Those who help make money
Those who help save money
Which one are you?
Even if you feel far removed from the corporate bottom line, start thinking of yourself as a mini profit-and-loss center rather than just an employee.
For example, an administrative assistant handling incoming client phone calls helps to create a solid bond with those clients and strengthens the sales link with the company. In that way, she helps to make money for the company. This same individual is also skilled at answering questions that would normally be directed to her boss or other employees. She saves time and, therefore, saves money for her company.
Collect specific examples of the benefits that your company gains from your work and the specific or unique way that you accomplish your duties. Write these down and use them as selling points during your next performance review.
Don’t hide away in your office or cubicle. Look around you. Take notice of those roles, projects or activities that seem to be getting a higher level of attention or involvement from management. If you’re not already a part of a critical project, then find ways to become more involved in these activities. Ask to be transferred to a critical area. Otherwise, volunteer for extra duties to support these activities. You’ll be viewed as an employee who goes the extra mile while inoculating yourself against expendability when the pink slips get handed out.
Better to manage or produce?
When considered for a promotion from a production job to a junior manager role, think about how that could play out in a worsening economy. It may be to your advantage to keep your hand in production, as junior managers tend to be among the most expendable when a company downsizes.
Dust off your Rolodex
The time to cultivate your network is now, not when you need a favor. Make a list of friends and colleagues you haven’t spoken with for a while. E-mail them or, if your relationship is deeper, invite them for coffee or lunch. Reconnect with a few people every month until you update your whole list and weed out irrelevant contacts. Use this opportunity to get reacquainted with contacts and catch up on events in your industry and market. Don’t forget to share what you know as well.
Increase your “profit value” to your employer by continually updating your knowledge and skills. Ask your immediate supervisor or HR department about continuing education opportunities. Some companies offer tuition reimbursements.
Another resource is the local chapter of your professional association, which often provides continuing education to members. Professional associations are also valuable sources of current information on your industry. If you’re not currently a member of an association, research Associations Unlimited, available in your local library.
Update your résumé
While this won’t really help keep your current job, if all else fails and you find yourself looking for a new job, it’s a good idea to rewrite your résumé before you need it. When you create that new résumé, sell your next employer on how you’ve been an asset to your current employer. Give examples of how you’ve helped to either make money or save money for your previous employers. Focus on the benefits you can offer your next employer.