What to Do If Someone Is Gunning for Your Job

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — It’s hard enough just to land a job in this labor market, but keeping one can prove difficult too, particularly when your position is coveted by others inside and outside the office.

In virtually every workplace, employees are likely to feel threatened from time to time by new hires or old hands who may seem a little too eager to show how well they could do your job. That’s nothing new, but several career experts we spoke with suggested that the number of workers with an eye on your job may be greater now since so many are underpaid, underemployed or stuck working lower-tier jobs just for a paycheck.

“Whether you perceive a direct threat or not, people are gunning for your job,” says Charles Purdy, a career expert with Monster.com. “In fact, the reality is there are probably lots of people who want your job because there are lots of unemployed people who want everyone’s job.”

If you don’t feel a little threatened in your job now, chances are you’re just not paying enough attention.

In some cases, the person pining for your job may be the ambitious go-getter who sits one desk over from you, while in other cases the person may be an unknown job hunter networking and applying for positions just like yours. Regardless of the situation, the fact that any decent full-time job is in high demand means you should take a few key steps to ensure that you’re not suddenly replaced one day.

Self-Promote Your Accomplishments

In an ideal world, all an employee would have to do to succeed is work hard and the management would come to recognize that person’s contribution to the company, but this won’t be enough for anyone who works at a midsize or large business where even noteworthy successes can slip through the cracks.

“The mistake a lot of people make in their careers is assuming their good work is always noticed, but you usually need to do some self-promotion to get your work noticed,” Purdy says.

Promoting your work can be done in different ways depending on what you’re comfortable with and the culture of your company. For some, Purdy says it might mean sending out a weekly e-mail update to your manager noting the projects you worked on, and for others it might mean scheduling time with your boss or even your boss’s boss on a monthly basis to check in, ask for advice and get feedback. Even just being a bit more verbal about your day-to-day projects and accomplishments when chatting with co-workers around the office can also help.

As uncomfortable as it may be for some to boast about themselves, taking the time to promote your value to the company will make it that much harder for another employee to make a compelling case for why they should replace you.

Improve Your Relationship With Your Boss

More than anything else, the relationship you have with your boss could make or break your chances of beating out any competitors for your job.

“Your boss is the one who oversees all job changes, so if your relationship is strong, it will be that much harder for someone else to gain ground on you,” says John Challenger, CEO of the career research firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Indeed, Challenger notes that from his experience, the leading reason employees quit or are fired from a job isn’t a matter of competence but rather “because the relationship with the boss has deteriorated.”

Part of the secret to maintaining a good relationship with your boss is simply keeping a line of communication open, just as you will to promote your work. Schedule time – informally or not – to discuss your ongoing projects, goals and accomplishments at the company and solicit advice whenever possible.

What you should not do, according to Challenger and Purdy, is to use that time to complain.

“Managers don’t care about your insecurity with your job, but rather what you are doing to help the company succeed,” Purdy says. “Complaining to your boss that so-and-so is after your job makes you look like a complainer and the boss might just say, ‘Yeah, she probably is gunning for your job, so do a better job.’”

The one exception to this is if the person going after your job is doing so in part by harassing you or sabotaging your work. In these cases, experts say it may make sense to explain the situation to a boss or even to bring the problem to your human resources manager.

Do a Better Job

Those words should go without saying, but at the end of the day the one thing you have complete control over is that you can always do a better job.

“If you feel there is a real threat, then you may need to think about upping your performance so you can ward it off,” Challenger says. Be willing to stay at work a little longer, take any feedback to heart to improve the quality of your work and whenever possible, Challenger suggests you try working on more “visible projects.”

“Make your company and the powers that be feel that you are indispensible,” he says.

Nurture Your Competition

As much as you may want to crush your competition and do everything in your power to get rid of them, it often pays to do the opposite and embrace them, particularly if you work in management.

“If you’re a manager and it’s someone on your own team who is moving for your job, the best thing to do is to embrace of the aspirations of that person,” says Carolyn Hughes, vice president of people at SimplyHired.com. “One part of your role as a manager is that you need to groom successors.”

Counter-intuitive as it may sound, fostering the ambitions of those you work with and serving as a mentor whenever possible will do much more to improve your standing and relationships in the workplace than engaging in any negative behavior, plus as Hughes points out, having someone else who you’ve trained will make it much easier for you to switch jobs at a time of your choosing.

Of course, even as you take the high road and nurture your competition, you should also be working hard to show off your own value to the company by following the other tips on the list, just in case.

—For a comprehensive credit report, visit the BankingMyWay.com Credit Center.

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