Staying Employed:
How to Keep the Job You Have

by Greg Faherty, CPRW
A lot of career articles deal with how to find a new job, but just as important as finding work is keeping work. This is especially true today, when record numbers of people are being laid off. While there's nothing you can do if your company closes down completely, there are ways to improve your odds of not being on that "pink slip" list when companies decide to downsize.

1. Work hard. There's no substitute for being productive. Companies like employees who go above and beyond. These days, little things count. Coming in early. Staying a little late to finish a project. Not spending time on Facebook or personal e-mails. And, of course, turning in quality work.

2. Be Flexible.  That means being ready to do what the company asks, even if it's not part of your regular job description. Cover someone's shift. Adjust your schedule. Help someone in another department.

3. Take on more responsibility.  Especially if your own department or position is a little slow, offer to help out with other projects, take over responsibilities if someone gets laid off, or assist other teams. This not only shows initiative, but also demonstrates you can do more than just your own job.

4. Be positive. No one likes a complainer, even if the complaints are well-founded. Sure, your boss might be making a mess of things, or your teammates might be slackers. But making your opinions known too often, or in the wrong manner, can get you labeled as a negative influence in the workplace.

5. Be a team player.  Even if you don't like your co-workers, smile and keep the peace.

6. Stay out of office politics and gossip. Everyone likes to share a little water cooler gossip. But companies are increasingly sensitive to this, and the wrong conversation could lead to your being on your boss's bad side, or worse.

7. Don't control yourself out of a job. Unless you are the person in charge, don't second-guess people—especially those outranking you—or offer advice when none is asked for. Maybe other people aren't doing things the way you'd do them, but that doesn't mean they want to hear your opinion about it.

8. Look to the future. Sure, maybe you don't like your job, or your boss, or your co-workers. But this is a tough time to be looking for work. So grin and bear things until you put together an effective—and discreet!—job search. Remember, you might not like your job, but at least you have one!

Preparing for a Job Search 

  • Get your resume and cover letter updated and ready to send.
  • Be discreet. Don't carry out your search at work unless you have a job where no one is going to hear or see you doing it. And remember, companies monitor e-mails these days, so that isn't safe, either.
  • Never use your work telephone number or e-mail or address for anything relating to a job search.
  • Have a list of references prepared and start building your network of contacts.