Word is the economy is not doing so hot. That can mean that even if you’ve been with the company for a while, you’re not necessarily going to be there tomorrow. Of course, your company doesn’t have to be on the brink of implosion for you to start taking steps to make yourself essential.
“Bulletproof Your Job,” a new book by workplace guru Stephen Viscusi provides some strategies that might help you stay on the corporate ladder while everyone else is falling off.
Be Visible: Make sure your superiors see you and notice the work that you’re doing — even if it’s all conveying the “perception” that you’re extremely committed, energized and productive. This includes the old truism of arriving at work early and staying late; dressing up and looking professional (though not gaudy) at the office; paying attention to details; and volunteering to lead projects. Viscusi says to make sure you publicize your accomplishments and to be as rah-rah as you can muster when representing the company or talking to others.
Be Easy: Viscusi points out, rightly, that bosses will keep in mind who the whiners and complainers on staff are when they do the firing. If there’s an opportunity to rid the office of some negative energy, many bosses will take it. So leave your problems at home, don’t mouth off, don’t behave like an ass and don’t talk smack about your co-workers. Everything you do in the office is helping to create a perception of you, so you want to make sure that you are perceived as someone who is positive, upbeat and dependable; not the person who is always making things unpleasant.
Be Useful: Part of being a model employee is being helpful to others. You want to show that you’re not only essential in the work you do yourself, but that you’re also helping to promote the work of others. Viscusi says that this includes being a mentor and helping to train others; being specialized enough that you’re needed for specific tasks, but also having the flexibility to do other stuff when you’re asked to; taking responsibilities on and coming up with new initiatives; and working hard to do whatever you can to add value to the company.
Be Ready: Stuff happens, and you need to be able to adapt to changing circumstances, so don’t stop thinking about the long-term viability of your career, even when your job seems to be secure. Viscusi says it’s important to make sure you’ve got some money in the bank to hedge against an unexpected job loss; keep your resume up-to-date; get to know a good recruiter and keep yourself on the back burner of their mind; know what’s going on in your industry and be aware of when there may be an opportunity elsewhere; and keep trying to learn new skills.