There’s an interesting article on Yahoo! (by way of AllBusiness.com) titled 5 Ways to Keep Your Job During a Recession.
There are a lot of articles like this one popping up, so it’s pretty clear that people are feeling job security anxiety these days. And this piece features some good advice. It’s always a good idea to boost your visibility (in positive ways only, of course) and marketability. Another tip that wasn’t mentioned — focus on maintaining a strong relationship with your boss (and, ideally, your boss’s boss) and make sure he/she knows about all of the valuable things that you do. Make sure that decision makers are aware of the value that you provide to the company.
However, I think the most valuable advice comes in the conclusion of the article: "And, because there’s no guarantee that you will retain your job in a recession, no matter how hard you try, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. On your own time, update your resume. Also, make sure that you are still networking with old bosses, coworkers, and business contacts. Don’t wait until you are laid off to keep your contacts and resume fresh. You will get better results if you are prepared ahead of time."
Amen. The bottom line is that there is no way to control whether you’ll keep your job during a recession or even during a strong economy. Today, all corporations go through layoffs and it’s hard to predict when or how they are going to happen. It’s not only companies in underperforming sectors that lay people off. You can waste a lot of time and energy worrying about layoffs that would be better spent preparing to minimize any negative fallout if it does happen.
I don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer, but I think people should keep in mind that strong performance is no guarantee that you’ll stick around. I have seen many valuable employees get laid off and many slackers survive job cuts. I have wasted many hours gossiping about layoff rumors, speculating about the safety of my job, and ostentatiously "adding value" in every meeting to show how indispensable I was. All of that while I could have been working on my resume.
The truth is that layoff decisions are often made for reasons that have nothing to do with performance. Sometimes an entire department is laid off or just the people who make the highest salaries in a certain group.
That’s why you can’t ever take it personally. Future employers know that getting laid off is no reflection on your value as an employee or a person. In fact, most job candidates at this point can probably boast at least one lay-off on their resumes.
So yes, you should keep performing well. This is no time to slack off. But stop gossiping, worrying, and biting your nails. Instead, use your spare time to step up your passive job search efforts and start looking for your next position. Even if you don’t end up needing a new job, it’s always a good idea to keep your options open.