As we all attempt to manage through an economic crisis – by cutting expenses, reducing frivolous spending, redesigning our budget, and refinancing our debts – we usually turn again to how to manage our career.
What do we do that makes us indispensable as an employee or manager?
In Bulletproof Your Job: 4 Simple Strategies to Ride Out the Rough Times and Come Out on Top at Work, Steven Viscusi imparts that being visible, easy to get along with, a team player and open to development opportunities are the keys to being heralded as a quality employee by your boss, and someone that will never be a “victim” of downsizing, rightsizing, layoffs or “the axe.”
Visibility as an employee often means staying later than the boss, paying attention to the details, taking the lead on projects and opening up conversations with your boss. Another part of any employee’s road to career success is to project professionalism via appearance, listen to others and speak up when necessary. To also dig for hidden opportunities while being a team player, and utilize those project successes as a way to spread credit while building those resume bullet points.
We have to be creatures of opportunity, seeing each handshake and each encounter as a chance to develop a strong framework for a better career.
While we are at work, there is always a temptation to talk about our personal flaws, gossip, complain or shop for a spouse while punching the shift clock. Don’t. The downsides are greater for most than the potentials for advancement.
While it is often “nice” for the boss to know you are going through difficulties, remember: he/she is likely in, or has gone through recently, the same types of stuff. Would you want to be their shoulder to cry on? Measure your bosses openness and closeness of your relationship before engaging them for such advise and sympathy.
Intimacy formed on intense projects turn bad more often than they work out in June weddings. Pursuing them leaves you open to jealousy, judgment questions, and the inevitable conflict of just being in the company of some you can not stand anymore.As Viscusi opines: “Just be clear about the risk involved. Let’s just say it’s not the world’s best bulletproofing behavior.”
Being “easy” means being a workplace cornerstone. Staying consistent. Minimal conflicts – in fact, reduce them at all costs. Discuss ideas, not the color of the temp’s underwear in front of the office manager, who is a woman. Keep etiquette in mine around all people. (Religion is for Sunday (Saturday, for some) and not for the pre-launch discussion of a multi-million dollar project you have been promoted to head up.)
If people come to you with their problems and concerns constantly, it means they see you as “the answer man” in the organization. That is good – if often, tiring.
While you are at work, you must be “useful” to your boss. Else, why have you there?
Help your boss by training others on systems. Or educate yourself on other departments – software, policies, how they problem solve – because the more tools you have at your disposal, the more valuable you become.
Value equals quality divided by price. Quality in this case means the qualities you bring to the table – ability to speak a foreign language, computer proficiency, international understanding, flexible schedule and task assignments, and prior successes – all add to your “quality portfolio.”
The greater your quality portfolio is, the greater your value is. (And your price, your salary, increases with this equation. And you will likely never lack for a position or the headhunters searching for your talents.)
When all else fails, and your entire company flushes down an economic black hole, you have to prepare to take action. Simply put (Viscusi key points):
1) Have 6 months to 2 years of income in liquid assets such as a CD. Sanity and confidence are important when you are either out of work or see the company is not going in the right direction. You make decisions out of strength, not weakness.
2) Update Resume to include accomplishments, accolades and new skills.
3) Social Network, Face-to-face network, Recruiter network – but use it as a career platform, not as a ‘what I did in the Bahamas with my boyfriend’ posted on Myspace. LinkedIn and Facebook are good places to seek out appropriate networking.
4) Help others reach their goals. The favors can be returned – in unexpected ways.
5) Join a professional association or take an interest in a conference on your field.
6) Write on your expertise and get it published.
7) Continue Education via distance learning, outside reading (on any subject) and incorporate it while you’re still employed. Let the employer pick up the tab.
8 Staying ready and alert is the ultimate take away.
Bulletproof Your Job gives 50 tidbits of advice that are crafted to make you think about the behaviors, the tasks, the goals and the results of being a solid workplace team player. How to survive the downturns that take place, the importance of networking, resume building keys, and mentoring (having one and doing it for others.) The best payoffs of educating yourself constantly are that no one can take that away from you.
Viscusi’s posts further on his recent book at the Huffington Post.