Standing Out When You’re Trying to Stay In

by Emily Jasper on January 6, 2009

In the blogosphere, many are saying that we should be identifying challenges due to the economy not as constraints, but as opportunities.

Try telling that to the low men on the totem pole.

Companies will be making more tough decisions this coming year…in addition to the ones already made. And the sad truth is that if it comes down to cuts, tenure can make an impact on who stays and who goes.

The profile of a Gen-Yer in the workplace probably looks something like this: youngest/newest person on the team; only brings a few years of experience to the table; probably isn’t visible more than a level up in the organization, let alone at the top; might have unconventional approaches to work, including multitasking and using social media; could have a bright future…but not there yet.

Any of this seem familiar?

When it comes to cuts for a team, the reasons above might contribute to why it is easiest to let go the Gen-Yer. If he has a bright future, he should be able to find something else pretty easily…right?

We’re finding in this economy, that question is getting even shakier than it used to be. The best of the best are unemployed with no hope for something substantial in the months to come. And then they take on a few part-time jobs to pay the bills, competing with others who may not have the opportunity for a future in business. Everything spirals, and Ivy grads are asking if you’d like fries with that.

Maybe it’s not that bad, but there are definitely those who are blue collar who are losing job options to unemployed white collar workers.

So how can we attempt to ward off this spiral of doom?

First, be thankful you have a job. It may not be the best in the world, but if you know you’re getting a steady paycheck, put a smile on your face…things could always get worse. Times might make it more difficult for you to do other things in your life, like putting off school or other major expenses, but if you can make it through the day-to-day, you’re doing alright.

Second, talk to your boss. Honesty is the best policy right now, and if you haven’t had a heart-to-heart about your future in the short term, I would schedule that meeting right away. Your boss may not have all the answers, but if you go in asking what it is you can do to help ensure you keep your position, that will go a long way. You might be surprised at how often the answers are simple: no more overtime, take on an additional project, help train a colleague, keep a positive attitude, etc.

Third, do your best every day. This means not just showing up and wearing a smile (and that helps), but truly working to do your job in the best possible manner in which it can be done. Go out of your way to really show you want to be there doing what you do.

And finally, don’t give your boss a reason to fire you. We all have bad days or personal problems, but now is not the time to flip out, check out, or cut out because you will be kicked out. Consider every day Interview Day, consistently putting your best foot forward…namely the one you used when you interviewed for your job.

All of these can’t guarantee you keep your job, but it will help put you on the Good List instead of the Bad List. And trust me, you probably won’t get a second chance if you end up on the Bad List.

The views expressed in my blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.

Photo courtesy of iStock photo