The definition of “job security” has changed a lot in the last four years. If you started working before the recession truly began in 2008, you probably had a really different idea about that term. I know I did. Having graduated from college in the mid-2000s, I had no concept of the idea of layoffs or furloughs (unpaid, forced leave) or unemployment. I thought jobs were plentiful, and once you had them, you had them for good!
Sadly, we all had to face a pretty harsh reality a few years later. I was lucky enough to keep my job, but I had many friends and some family members too who found themselves without work and on the job market unexpectedly. Suddenly, I realized that I was expendable. Unfortunately, we all are. The reality is that when push comes to shove, you are replaceable in your job.
However, that’s not to say you can’t be proactive. One of the things I did to make myself feel better about the failing economy was to do everything I could to improve my chances of keeping my job. Rather than thinking about job security, I started to think of it like job insurance. What steps could I take to make it less likely that I would be let go?
- Become a subject-matter expert. Is there a specific type of software or reporting tool that your team uses regularly? If so, get the applicable training and then go beyond the basics. Learn that tool or system inside and out, and become the “go-to” person for your team if they have questions.
- Be visible. Attend company events, talk with people at the office, and volunteer to take on projects with cross-functional exposure. The more people who know your name and know your work, the less you become just a number.
- Be proactive. Start being a think tank for your department or team. Be an idea person. Don’t be afraid to bring these ideas up with your boss and peers. The more, the better. They won’t all be winners, but it will show that you are solutions-focused, and dialed in to the growth and betterment of the company.
- Bust your butt! There’s no substitute for good, old-fashioned hard work. The hardest workers are the least expendable.
My last piece of advice? Do all of the above with a smile on your face. Positivity goes a long way, especially during difficult times.