How to keep your job in a bad economy


How can you avoid the unemployment line during economic hard times? Martha Stewart Radio career coach Maggie Mistal explains what steps you can take to improve the odds that you'll keep your job, even in a bad economy.

How to keep your job in a bad economy
Whenever the economy takes a downturn, people begin worrying about their job security. Here are some tips to help you keep your job in a bad economy.

Be aware of the early warning signs that your job security may be at risk.
  • Department budgets are being cut
  • Employees are being let go and not replaced
  • A hiring freeze is put in place

If your company is public, take advantage of the publicized information available to you.
  • Review quarterly reports
  • Listen to earnings calls
  • Understand the financial foundation of your company

You can directly help yourself keep your job in a bad economy by working to affect the bottom line.
  • Strive for excellent performance evaluations
  • Try to bring business to your company
  • Share contacts that can help grow the business
  • Look for ways to save the company money

When colleagues are being let go, address your job security with your manager.
  • Ask your manager what he or she knows about the security of your job
  • Be direct, but not confrontational

Reconnect with your network even if you are told your job is secure.
  • Don't wait till you are let go to reconnect with your network
  • Reach out to recruiters, former colleagues, and managers to become aware of potential opportunities
  • Update your resume and consider new and creative ways of presenting yourself through your resume

ROBYN: I’m Robyn Moreno for Whenever the country experiences a recession or serious downturn, we all get jittery. Am I about to be downsized out of a job? Will my company have lay-offs? What can you do to protect yourself? For answers, let’s turn to Maggie Mistal; a Career Coach on Martha Stewart Radio who also has her own career consulting business. Welcome Maggie, how are you?

MAGGIE:  Good Robyn, how are you?

ROBYN: What are some early warning signs that maybe a company is going to be laying people off?

MAGGIE:  Well you want to be paying attention to what’s, not only happening on the horizon and in the economy, but also within your own company. If you’ve been in a budget meeting lately and next year your department's getting less, that’s a sign that maybe things aren’t going so well. If you also notice that the person next to you is let go, and they haven’t replaced the person, or there’s a hiring freeze of sort, it can also mean that things aren’t going well financially. The beauty of it is, though, if you’re in a public company, you actually have access to a lot of information that most people don’t take advantage of. Every quarter, a public company has to report on its economic results. So what I recommend to my clients is that they pay attention and that they listen to those earnings calls, and that they see and hear what the real statistics are for the financial foundation for their company.

ROBYN: Is there any actions that people can take to secure their jobs?

MAGGIE:  Oh, absolutely. I mean every day, being the best employee there is, is a great way to do it, right. So you want to make sure you’re getting great performance evaluations, that you’re addressing any feedback that your manager gives you. You also want to be looking for ways, we say go above and beyond, but I like to say to impact the bottom line. You know, are there customers that you can bring to the company? Are there contacts that you have in your network that would help your business or your department succeed. What can you do to save money? You know, can you redefine the way that you’re doing your job to make it better, faster, cheaper? You know, all these things that, again, hit the bottom line will help your company do well, and therefore make you much more indispensable.

ROBYN: So what if there’s someone who, at your job, their colleagues are getting fired, so someone sits next to them, was let go, and they’re worried. Should they confront their boss and just ask plainly, am I about to be let go?

MAGGIE:  Absolutely. I think it’s a great idea to go to your manager and understand the security of your own job. And get at least as much information as your manager has. But confront is a little strong. You don’t necessarily have to be too hard on your manager, because this is going to be hard on them as well. They’re the ones who had to tell people they didn’t have jobs anymore. So find out from your manager what she or he knows. Also, what you may want to do is start to secure your own career a bit, and reach out to people in your network. Find out if it’s just your company that’s going through this, if other people are being impacted, and where other opportunities might exist so that you don’t feel this need to run for the hills.

ROBYN: If someone is told that their job is, in fact, secure, should they still be sending out those resumes?

MAGGIE:  I don’t recommend that they necessarily have to send out a resume, but you definitely want to reconnect with that network, as I said earlier, and make sure that you’re aware of opportunities. The last thing you want to have happen, is that you do get a pink slip, and then you’re calling people for the first time. Recruiters, you know, old bosses, old colleagues. So really get back in touch with everyone, find out how they’re doing, find out where potential opportunities might be. You do want to make sure your resumes also up to date. A lot of folks don’t update their resume until they have to. This is a good sign that it might be time to update it. And also look for some new and creative ways to present yourself. Just the other day, I was working with someone on a bit of a biography resume. He had the traditional chronological one, but a new narrative that also showed his accomplishments. So this might be a time to explore some new and different ways to also be presenting yourself, because it’s about differentiating yourself from the marketplace. If everyone’s being laid off, the question is, what’s going to make you look different in the next round of interviews?

ROBYN: Would the take-away be, maybe, also be in touch with a recruiter, or always sort of have your resume at the ready?

MAGGIE:  Absolutely. I mean, recruiters have their fingers on the pulse. If anyone knows where opportunities are, it’s going to be the recruiting community. So, don’t just be contacting recruiters at that moment when you need them, or anyone in your network just when you need them. You want to be helping recruiters, offering even maybe other candidates that may be of help to them. The more you help your network and give resources to them, the more apt they’ll be to help you when you really need it.

ROBYN:  Thank you so much, Maggie Mistal for the great advice in tough times. I’m Robyn Moreno for

meet theexpert
  • Maggie Mistal

    Maggie Mistal Career Coach, Martha Stewart Living Radio Maggie Mistal is a certified life purpose and career coach. Her passion is her career consulting practice, working with individuals to identify their ideal careers and helping them make career changes. more about this expert »

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