No one can guarantee that the job you have today will be yours tomorrow. Companies pressed to increase productivity are facing tighter budgets, leaving employees like you nervous at the idea of being squeezed out.
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What can you do? Make it harder for your employer to let you go.
If staying under the radar has been your M.O., think again. "This may have worked years ago, but nowadays people have to show value to the employer," says Carol Silvis, author of 101 Ways to Make Yourself Indispensable at Work. "I would bet many people who flew under the radar are now in the unemployment ranks."
To help avoid that from happening, try these helpful tips:
Embrace technology. If you don't use Twitter or blog, it's OK. But know what a "tweet" is should it come up at a meeting or in conversation with a colleague. Know that LinkedIn.com is geared toward professionals and Facebook is most often used among friends. Simply be in the know.
Raise your hand. Volunteer to take on responsibilities, and keep a record of your accomplishments and extra tasks so, if one day it's necessary, you can lay out all those things. This may be just enough to make you look more valuable than the next guy.
Take ownership of your job. Be the expert at what you do. Know the job and do it well. As we age, we tend to slip into a comfort zone. Be as excited about your job today as you were on the first day.
Watch the company's bottom line. If you're in a job that gives you a budget, keep the spending under control. Find ways to cut costs, and make sure your supervisor knows you've taken action.
Get along with other generations. You may be working with — maybe for — someone a decade or more younger than you. Learn to get along with different age groups. Listen to them when they talk. Respect their opinions. Find ways to connect your interests. Don't treat younger professionals as incompetent children.
Watch your non-verbal communication. Be energetic. Don't act like you're on your last leg. Be positive. Take care of yourself, so you can non-verbally communicate that you've got a lot of living (and working) to do.
Get advice. Consider consulting with a professional career coach to get an unbiased critique of your existing skills, your résumé and what skills you should work on.
Above all, Silvis says to mold yourself into the kind of employee any company would want to hire – in case you do get that pink slip.
"Remain marketable, whatever it takes," she says. "You want to be able to get in any place in the market. Have the characteristics that could fit you into any slot."