Our work world is in full swing, yet there are rumblings of job insecurity everywhere.
Labor statistics are showing increasing volatility and rising unemployment rates. Concerned that this issue will lead to decreased economic growth, leaders of these dynamic economies are starting to focus much more attention on job-creation initiatives. They are feverishly looking at a variety of policy options to prevent a national job crisis. Indeed, our leaders continue to have a difficult role ahead of them.
However, in spite of the fact that pockets of the U.S. economy such as the North East have shown job growth and reduced unemployment, no individual working person should take this news as a signal of job security. That's because in today's world, the only job security you have are your own skills and expertise.
So the question arises, if you are in control of your career, and skills equal job security, what steps can you take to ensure you remain employable? Whether your employer is experiencing challenging times and/or whether a merger or acquisition is facing you, the following tips will provide some guidelines to assist during most volatile times.
Know yourself well -- I've written about this issue many times and may sound like a broken record, but I continue to be amazed at the number of people who really don't know themselves very well. They graduate from school, go to work and blindly follow along, even when they don't like their job. My advice then is to take time to analyze your skills, what motivates you and what environment best suits your personality and communication style. Then, examine your workplace and where you fit. Ask yourself if you will continue to fit.
Plan for continuous improvement -- Understand your industry sector and the jobs being created and upgraded. Learn what additional new skills you need to develop to stay current. Arrange either personally or through work to take courses for continuous improvement.
Learn teamwork skills -- People frequently experience weak skills in the area of teamwork. Teamwork means working for the collective good and this requires different roles. Understand which team role you are best suited for and improve your skills in this area. Do you like to initiate projects, plan them and then delegate the work to others? Or are you best suited to working on the implementation stage?
Seek out a professional certification -- Our workplace is becoming professionalized; by that, I mean official credentials and certifications are becoming the norm. Seek out the industry sector groups related to your job and research the various certifications and professional designations that can set you apart. Join these organizations and get that designation.
Develop a reputation -- Every worker, whether you like it or not, develops a reputation. Be sure yours is one that's recognized for taking responsibility, engaging in hard work, being flexible, sharing and helping one another, teamwork and quality work.
Become a known entity -- Many workers do not make much of an effort to become known within their organization; instead, they stick closely to their own work or their own department. Get out of your corner and get known. Volunteer to organize events. Volunteer for projects. Network with other people from your organization.
Be a good problem solver -- Individuals who can think through problems independently in light of the whole organization rather than from a narrow perspective provide good value as an employee. Think like a leader, act like a leader and new opportunities will come your way.
Be a good listener -- People who are good listeners attract people to them, especially if they instill confidence and help others solve problems. Listen to others, but don't get caught up in their negativity. Steer them toward positive solutions.
Live with a positive attitude -- People with a positive attitude typically have longer career paths than those that do not. Positive people see opportunities within challenging situations. They can make things happen because they take responsibility.
Wrestle down conflict -- Workplace conflicts, be it interpersonal challenges or working with a difficult boss, are all issues workers confront. Deal with conflict before it escalates and avoid making workplace enemies. Career longevity depends on your ability to effectively deal with conflict. Finally, don't hold a grudge.
Achieve top player status -- While organizational concerns may sometimes consume your thoughts, be sure you stay focused on doing quality work every hour of the day. Be on time and on budget. Bosses want to count on someone who is sincere, hard working and dedicated. Longevity comes for employees who can be counted on to get things done. However, be sure your job and your projects are focused on core business initiatives.
Develop a big picture view -- Employees who can see the big picture offer good value to their workplace. Watch your industry trends and identify the strengths and vulnerabilities of your organization. Know how your work contributes to the whole and determine how you can continue to fit into the organization.
Be creative and speak up -- Take your concrete and creative suggestions for making work-related improvements and speak up. Believe me, organizations value individuals who make suggestions and recommendations, especially those that save time and money and improve quality. Go for it!
Flexibility is key -- Employees who are more flexible and can more easily adapt to changes in projects and people are highly valuable to an organization. Take on more responsibility when needed, try new tasks. Do more than you were asked as flexibility, quality work and personal initiative gain trust and respect.
Keep the resume up to date -- Most people take themselves for granted and fail to give themselves credit for their skills. Not only that, they also neglect documenting the many great accomplishments experienced in the workplace. Get that resume up to date and keep it current. You may never have to use it but when the time comes, you are ready and don't have to struggle to recall the details of your many achievements.
Our work environment is constantly changing and this makes life somewhat uncertain. However, instead of living in a state of fear about losing your job, take positive steps to increase your value, build and refresh your skills. Keep in mind, that the only job security is you.