05/07/2010 04:12 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Keeping the Job You Love

It's all over the news and all around the water cooler -more layoffs, layoffs, layoffs. Fortunately, your job seems to be safe - for the moment - but you worry that you might be next. What an uneasy feeling that is. Of course, if it's a mass layoff, then there's probably nothing you can do about it. But, if the layoff is more selective, then maybe you can do something now to keep the job you love.


1. Innovate! - Clearly, these are difficult times, but that doesn't mean companies aren't innovating. Some people make the mistake of maintaining the status quo and not trying anything new. They think, "This is not the time to focus on new strategies. We have to keep our heads down and get the work done". While your company might be contracting in some ways, they are always looking for ways (and the leadership) to grow the business and that means implementing new ideas. You have innovative ideas, so this is the time to bring them forward. Don't make the mistake of just keeping your head down. If there was ever a time for optimism it's now. Being an innovator will separate you from your peers who are afraid to risk trying anything new in this climate. If the company does have to layoff a select few, who do you think will go first: the people who keep innovating in tough times or the ones who just want to hunker down?

2.Increase Your Visibility - If at all possible, give a presentation, run a team meeting or get on a committee. Alternatively, you can simply reach out to other people within the organization - sales, marketing, finance, etc. Have frequent, positive contact and offer assistance where needed, so that people will say "That Linda is a keeper". During times of stress, it's the person with a plan (e.g., new ideas) who will attract the positive attention of senior management.

3. Be Your Boss's Co-Pilot - Ask your boss, "What can I take off your plate?" Yes, you've got a lot on yours, but, the more you do, the more indispensible you'll be. When it comes time to decide who gets the ax, your boss is going to look around to see who is doing what. If you're doing more with the same resources, and/or have your hand in projects that affect multiple areas, you'll be the one management must keep in the organization.

4. Become More Productive - Do your job as though you just got it. Do you remember that enthusiasm you had in the beginning? Well, bring that to work with you every day. Take a fresh look at every part of your job and figure out a way to do each 20% better. You get more productive by streamlining processes, reducing meeting times, doing things less frequently - one report a week instead of two - and delegating. This is a time when companies are looking to run leaner organizations. Demonstrate by your attitude and productivity that you are aligned with senior management and you'll be less at risk than those who aren't.

5. Be Positive - Remember... you still have a job. Don't complain about the workload or engage with people who want to rehash how bad things are. Don't listen to rumors that your group may be out next and don't run to your boss asking "What have you heard?"

Maintain a positive attitude. Who would you rather work with, someone who is fearful and complaining or someone who takes things in stride with the best possible outlook? Your boss and those you work with are no different.

The more positive you can be about your job and the better you can be at your job, the greater the likelihood is that you will be retained when others are let go. An added benefit is that you'll feel better about going to work each day, appreciating the job you have and demonstrating that you are committed to improving the company, especially in hard times.

Fred & Gladys
Whelan Stone
Executive Search and Coaching
Authors of GOAL! Your 30 Day Career Plan for Business & Career Success