The economy is not doing well, despite what the talking heads tell us on the news. People are still being laid off and others continue to have issues finding a job that would match their skills and experience. There are jobs to be had, but many times they are at levels or salaries lower than what one is used to. The number one question that I hear from people that I work with that are currently in a job is how do I keep my job? It is easier than what you think! Here are five things that you can start doing RIGHT NOW to increase your professional image, maintain a strong network, and learn valuable skills that will be important throughout your career.
Be Present and Be Visible: Now is the time to BE at work as much as possible and make sure the right people know it in a professional way. While you are at work, remain positive at all times. It is a tough economy and you might know people who have been laid off. Keeping a positive attitude will insulate you from the negative economy as well as show your image as the sort of person that they would want to keep around.
Be Available: As we progress through the job we were hired to do, we can quickly become used to the daily activities and humdrum of the office. This is a sign of becoming complacent. Your goal is to be available to your coworkers and boss for new projects. Take time to volunteer for new projects or to help out others with theirs. This will show your added value to the team, but also provide you with new skills and experiences to market to the next employer.
Take Calculated Risks: Expanding on the concept of being available, use this time to shore up areas in which you feel you do not have enough experience or knowledge. Don't wait around for someone to offer these opportunities to you, search them out! This is a great way to show your employer that you are actively trying to grow within the company and trying to find added value for them.
Expand your Network The Right Way: Can you say that you know everyone in your current organization? If not, now is the time to reach out and introduce yourself to them. The art of saving your job can be as simple as making sure everyone knows you. Reaching out from your organization, take a moment to understand the vendors and other partners your organization does business with. Have you had the opportunity to reach out and meet them? I am often amazed at the lack of networking a person does while in a job. Having a strong network of people both inside and outside your organization not only will allow you to keep your fingers on the pulse of your organization but also help you keep your ears to the ground for external opportunities.
Be the Instigator: Don't just do the job you were hired to do. When I talk with those who were able to make it through layoffs and cutbacks, I often find out it was because they were very proactive in their jobs. They would be the ones to actively find ways to cut costs, generate new revenue, or fix issues before they became major problems. Not only did they do this, but they took a professional role in making sure others knew they were doing this. Don't wait for others to tell you what to do. Go out and do it!
Dr. Patrick Madsen is the director of the UNCG Career Services Center. Learn more at http://csc.dept.uncg.edu/.