We've all seen the headlines; times are still tough. Many are on edge about having lost their jobs, and if you still have yours, you're probably fearful of joining the ranks of the unemployed. (Check out Latina.com's new Job Search section to find the perfect gig!) Believe it or not, now is the time to strategize. "We're in a recession, and if you don’t step up, you could be fired. It’s as simple as that," says Stephen Viscusi, author of Bulletproof Your Job: 4 Simple Strategies to Ride Out the Rough Times and Come Out on Top at Work (HarperBusines, $16) Don’t panic—the following tips will help you survive without a scratch, whether that means holding on to your current gig or moving on to something even more amazing.
"Keeping your job in difficult times is not just about working hard, it’s also about working smart," Viscusi explains. Here’s how to retain your cubicle.
Learn to lead: “Stand out by being open to a change in company direction and making yourself available for new projects,” suggests Cindy Hernandez, executive search consultant (that’s a headhunter to you) and owner of Top Recruits in Miami. So if your company wants to start selling widgets to monkeys instead of people, grab a banana and lead the charge. You’ll show that you’re flexible and can be depended on when times are hard.
Be your boss’s BFF: Don't go dancing with her three nights a week, but do make her like you. "If I understand where my employees come from, what they are dealing with and what their long-term personal and professional goals are, I see them as whole individuals with priorities and aspirations," says Audrey Ponzio, a vice president at Edelman PR in New York City. And that can translate into job security, as your boss will be less likely to fire people she really knows. But remember: There’s a fine line between sharing who you are and getting too personal. So read what she reads, watch what she watches—then talk to her about it, and slip in info about your family and goals when she’s not looking.
It's all about actions: Are you amazing at sniffing out leads? Got a knack for numbers? Ramp up your efforts and make sure the bigwigs know it; no one wants to boot talent off the bench. And be on the lookout for new niches. “Find the hot growth area in your industry and learn it well,” Viscusi advises. That also means that if you either make money or know how to save money for the company, they might think twice before eliminating your position.
Be a team player: It’s key that you play well with others. "It's not a total popularity contest, but people want to work with coworkers they like. If an employee is notorious for being off-putting or isolated, I do look at that unfavorably," Ponzio says. It’s important for your boss to know you care about the company’s well being just as much as your own. Also, don’t complain: "I’m famous for stopping employees mid-sentence and saying, 'Before you finish telling me what’s wrong, be sure you have a solution.’ Otherwise, that’s just lazy," Ponzio says.
Train others: You may not have new folks streaming in at the moment, but with reorganization and cheap labor (read: interns) being used to offset costs, plenty of folks will need to learn new tasks quickly. The good news? This is another opportunity to shine. "Bosses tend to be lazy when it comes to training," Viscusi says. Take the initiative and you’ll prove not only that you know your job well, but also that you have management potential. Plus, it'll put you in your boss’s good graces. "If one of my employees sees that I’m crunched and offers help, I’m forever grateful," Ponzio confirms.