Monday, September 10, 2007

Job Loss: You Could Be Next

If you’re feeling a little uptight about your job these days, you’re not alone. And if you’re not feeling a little uptight, you should be.

That’s because the employment figures released last week weren’t so hot. Those lost jobs – the first time that’s happened in four years – comes on the heels of a lousy housing market and continuing costly overseas military actions.

Of course, the more optimistic among you will cite the good retail sales figures and the strong corporate profits as signs that things will again be good, and that you’ve got no reason to be worried.

Are you absolutely sure about that? Well, if so, then continue on your merry way and don’t worry about tomorrow. But for those of you who are concerned that your job may be threatened (remember, companies keep those profits high by using employees as commodities), then it’s time to take stock and prepare.

While I’ve covered some of these in my “What To Do When You Lose a Job” posting, I’d like to beef it up a bit. Even if you feel like your job is safe, you’d be foolish to turn your nose up at these opportunities that will not only benefit your job now, but help you should the pink slip be in the next paycheck:

1. Attend the next professional event. You’ve been putting this off because, frankly, you’re so exhausted after work the last thing you want to do is talk business and eat stale pretzels while trying to remember some guy’s name you met a year ago. Go to the next event and not only should you learn everyone’s name, but come away with at least three new contacts. Is your industry vulnerable to the ripples going on now in the economy? Are other companies already making noises about layoffs? What are other professionals in your industry seeing at their companies?
2. Do some snooping. Get to know the boss’s executive assistant if you don’t already. Get friendly enough to take him or her to lunch or meet for a drink after work. Is this assistant hearing anything about the boss being told to tighten the budget? Is the boss – or the boss’s boss – thinking of jumping ship? What departments are scheduled for new training, and who is being cut off from decision-making?
3. Start blogging. Make sure it’s OK with your company policy first, but this is a good chance to set yourself up as an expert in your area. Post important information from other sites, and refer readers to other places for information. Even if you aren’t allowed to blog about your job, find other bloggers in your industry and post comments. This is a good way to become known for your knowledge and expertise.
4. Know what’s being said about you online. You want to make sure that what is being presented about you online does not give a company the excuse it’s looking for to get rid of you. Remove anything questionable, and ask friends to remove photos or descriptions that make you look or sound like a total moron or dangerous human being.
5. Know where the jobs are. Make sure you understand not only what you’re worth, but what areas of the country (or world) are hiring people with your skills and abilities. Constantly assess your network and how up-to-date you are on current trends, how fast you could hit the ground running for a new employer. If you’re lacking in an area, don’t wait – get the training either through your company or on your own.

Remember, you want to make sure you’ve got a game plan in place before you see someone from security standing by your desk with a cardboard box. Waiting until you and everyone else from your company is filing out the door with those boxes could mean that you should have heeded this warning in the first place.

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