5 Ways to Avoid a Pink Slip


It’s tough to trust the notion of an “indispensable” employee at the moment, especially with top-notch workers and industry veterans losing their jobs in a variety of sectors once deemed recession-proof. 

But even with many employers aggressively downsizing, there are still things you can do to strengthen your position at your company.

“It’s about performance and the willingness to go the extra mile,” says Sally J. Smith, president and CEO of Buffalo Wild Wings, which is holding its own in a rough economy (Stock Quote: BWLD).

Here are five ways to stay hot and in-demand at your job:

1. Create solutions, not setbacks. These days more stress and fewer resources means many of us are grumbling a lot more about work.  It’s easy (and admittedly a little fun) to complain about work. But that’s not going to help you move forward in the company.  Instead, having a positive attitude and showing resiliency at the office can go a long way in getting your boss on your side.   “Strive to spend 100% of your time demonstrating that you can be the architect of solutions,” says Diane Garnick, chief investment strategist at Invesco (Stock Quote: IVZ)  and author of I’m Smarter Than My Boss. Now What?

2. Build diverse relationships. Expand your social network within the company in other divisions and with all professional levels.  What’s stopping you from asking the CEO out to lunch and picking his or her brain about the company and your ideas for taking it to the next level? “Internal relationships are critical to success,” says Stacy Radin, founder of the consulting firm Corporate Equilibrium. “Even if your area is downsizing, others who know you may see a place for you in another function.  What you know is important, but who you know is tantamount to success.”

3. Display a long-term commitment. While you may be secretly slipping your resume to other employers, give your boss the impression that you are committed to their team. Have conversations with your higher-ups about where you see yourself in the company down the road and why your particular projects can enhance the company’s bottom line not just this quarter but year over year. According to Radin, you can also display commitment by participating in workshops or seminars offered by the company. This is especially important for job seekers, too. In the interview, don’t make it seem like you’re just looking for a temporary position to help pay the bills. “If I suspect, even for a second, that someone might not be here in five years, you can count the minutes until they’re out,” says Garnick.

4. Seek mentors. Your coworkers who’ve been with the company for more than a decade can offer you a wealth of advice on how to build some staying power. Chances are they can reflect on a previous downsizing at the company and offer some great lessons. “Mentors can be instrumental in helping you navigate through the maze of the organization,” says Radin.

5. Offer to move within the company. Some departments may be more vulnerable than others in a corporate-wide layoff.  If you think your team’s a likely target, be proactive and think of ways to possibly stay on board in a different capacity.  We’ve already reported on how some employees are finding luck offering to move to another one of their company’s locales where you trade a smaller wage in exchange for a more affordable cost of living.  “If you find yourself being part of a layoff, try to have the presence of mind to say ‘I understand my position is being eliminated, though I’d be interested in looking at other open positions at the company, moving to another area or providing consulting services,’” advises Smith.

Overall, these days, NOT being a part of problems at work is the best way to stick around. “The employees who…think in terms of a solution will get noticed,” says Kristi Wetherington, president and CEO of Capital Institutional Services.  "And be rewarded."


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