Smart Tips for Tough Times: 5 Ways to Boost Your Job Security  
1/7/2009 4:14:41 PM

By Michelle Vessel -- If you're starting to feel a bit worried about your career prospects these days, you're definitely not alone. In the throes of what appears to be a global economic downturn, many employers are tightening their belts and beginning to look to the budget for any excess slack to cut.

By the end of 2008, unemployment rates throughout North America were reaching decade-long peaks, and analysts say that the outlook for 2009 isn't much more encouraging. For diligent jobseekers, there are always going to be opportunities to be found, but according to Carl Van Horn, director of the Heldrich Center for Workplace Development at Rutgers University, employees who are already in a stable role may find it more important to focus on job security for the time being.

Creating Your Own Job Security

In this age of layoffs, at-will employment, and economic uncertainty, job security may seem like a thing of the past. But believe it or not, there’s actually a lot that employees can do to make sure that you can hang on to your paycheck -- even when the economy is going through a rough patch.

Career consultant and HR expert Alan Stafford says that across-the-board layoffs are largely a thing of the past. Even when a workforce reduction proves to be necessary to ensure a company's survival, today's savvy employers are bending over backwards to hang on to their most valuable team members. All you have to do is to make sure that you secure yourself a spot on your boss's MVP list.

Are you ready to supercharge your job security and significantly boost your chances of weathering the current economic storm? Use these simple tips and techniques to bolster your career prospects, even in the toughest of times.

  • Go above and beyond the call of duty. When you're trying to set yourself apart from the pack, it's important to display an uncommon level of commitment, drive, and initiative. Try to make your contribution clear by offering unique solutions and suggestions, volunteering for extra shifts or unpopular duties, or staying late from time to time.
  • Cross-train to learn multiple functions. When a budget crunch forces cutbacks in labor costs, supervisors will be looking to hang on to employees who are highly productive. The greater number of tasks and functions you can effectively carry out or oversee, the more indispensable you'll be to the company. Be sure to take advantage of every training opportunity that's offered to you.
  • Network within your own company. The deeper your roots are in the organization, the less likely it is that you’ll be cut loose if and when a storm happens to hit. If you haven't already, try to make an effort to branch out beyond your own department or section. Reach out and connect with people throughout the organization, from the front desk to the boardroom and beyond.
  • Demonstrate aptitude and potential. One of the gravest challenges facing many companies today is a serious shortage of candidates with future leadership potential. Even in the midst of an economic crisis, managers are still keeping an eye out for team members with leadership talent. If you make an effort to develop and demonstrate the kind of skills and personality traits that are consistent with management-track potential, you'll be able to significantly improve your chances of long-term job security.
  • Cultivate a positive attitude. It may sound like a cliché, but decades of organizational research have shown that employees who display a cheerful, pleasant demeanor are much more likely to make it through layoffs unscathed. If you’re easy to get along with, chances are good that you’ll get to stick around much longer than your grumpy, ill-mannered coworkers.
  • When times are tough, employees and employers alike are often called upon to make unpleasant choices. By taking care to position yourself as an indispensable asset to the company, you can boost your job security and increase your chances of being able to make career decisions on your own terms.