Dark Layoff CloudsWhen the economy suffers, businesses get nervous. In an effort to curb costs, employers attempt to cut out the fat – starting with jobs. In such uncertain times, your job might be here today and gone tomorrow.

If you’re lucky you’ll see an imminent layoff coming, giving you some time to prepare. Other times it might not be so apparent, depending on the size and structure of your organization. You know it’s time to worry when the rumor mill starts churning with your co-workers. It’s always a good idea to stay on your toes when you first hear the whispers of department restructurings and outside consultants being brought in. Sometimes the circumstances are out of your control, but on rare occasion you can dodge the axe with the right skills and attitude. Here’s four ways to slip by unscathed and avoid a layoff.

  1. Increase your visibility: If layoffs are coming, it might be your first instinct to crawl into the woodwork and hide, but it’s much wiser to do the opposite – be seen and be heard throughout your organization. Start developing strategic relationships with your superiors. Go to voluntary meetings and be open and available for additional projects and assignments.When the higher-ups start deliberating about who to let go, it’s easier for them to fire “that guy in accounting” rather than you, someone they know and trust and laugh with. It’s harder to fire someone when they can attach a name to a face.
  2. Enhance your skill set: Position yourself as a company asset by building your skills and increasing your knowledge. A valuable employee isn’t easily tossed away. Look at it this way: If your boss releases you into the wild and puts you back on the job market – all his/her competitors are open open to embracing you and your strategic expertise.
  3. Be excellent not expendable: In the same vein as the previous point, ask yourself this question: Am I adding value to the company’s bottom line, or am I a mindless drone taking up space? Strive for greatness and don’t be afraid to “toot your own horn” once in a while. If you fade into the background, you only seem unimportant, regardless of your effort.
  4. Stay positive: Finally, your attitude is everything in the face of impending layoffs. Stay positive and don’t let it affect your work performance. Whether you get hit or not, you’ll have proved yourself a solid employee and will be ready to move on to the next big thing.

If you know about a layoff that’s going to happen or just hear a rumor, it’s definitely time to get proactive about the issue. Trying to keep your current job by making yourself valuable should only be one part of the equation, however. If your company is undergoing very difficult financial times, it’s a very good idea to also keep your finger on the pulse of the job market, and perhaps start doing some networking with likely companies that might employ you. Good luck out there!


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