How to Keep Your Job – 10 Tips in a Tough Economy

charlie avatarKeeping your job in a tough economy is extremely hard, and this past week definitely proved it for me. On Friday I watched about 300 of my co-workers get laid off in a single day (end of the Federal fiscal year). One of my best friends at work got one week notice that his contract wasn't being renewed, and just like that he was out of a job. He had no chance at keeping his existing job or even finding another. As the Federal budgets get slimmer and slimmer I think all of us will soon begin to feel the crunch, if you haven't already. 

On Friday, when I drove home I reflected on my job and how God has protected me and my family over and over again.  I prayed, “Lord God, thank you so much for my job, and the chance to impact my co-workers. I am continual in awe of how You continue to provide for my family, and are always faithful. Thank you for your protective hand in helping me keep my job. Thank you!” As I continued to drive I continued to think about how God had helped me keep my job. Why was I so lucky? What have I done different?

As much as I believe in God's divine hand in keeping my job I also think we have a part in our employment as well. If I didn't, then I'd sit at my desk all day, take naps on the clock, play fantasy football at work, and just pray that God would help me keep my job. HA! Instead I think about what tips have helped me keep my job (in my mind). Here are a few tips that have helped me in a competitive workplace!

  1. Be ethical – as simple as it may sound many people's integrity and character is one of the quickest ways to get yourself fired. It's hard to keep your job if you're involved in stealing, sexual harassment, or illegal time charging.
  2. Encourage and challenge others – having a positive attitude is often hard in a recession. Go against the norm – come to work with a smile.
  3. Get along with your co-workers – sounds easy, right? However, when most people go in for a interview they take about 50% of the interview to size you up to see if you'd get along with your boss or co-workers.
  4. Don't get involved in the water cooler talk – how many of these people do you know or have known that were gossipers? Gossiping helps yourself ZERO! It's unproductive and not respectful of your employer.
  5. Remember your family while you are at work – why are you at work? If you are like me, you've got kids and a wife at home that need a roof over their heads and need food. By doing a good job at work you aren't only providing for yourself, but your entire family. Your family is relying on you! Step up!
  6. Keep pursuing advanced degrees and certifications – most people have their job because they have a certain knowledge or have obtained it over the years either through experience or degrees/certifications.  Do everything you can to keep your skills sharpened and “in-demand”. For example, if are already practicing tax law, consider pursuit the L.M. (Master of Laws) in Taxation to advance your career. The courses will help you expand your skills base by developing expertise in key practice areas such as corporate tax, estate planning, federal tax law and international tax law. Check here for more information.
  7. Ask for feedback (informal) about your job performance and how you can improve – something I do about every 9 months with my manager is informally ask for feedback. I go in there with a pen and paper, and ask 1) What am I doing good? 2) What do I need to work on? 3) What are your priorities over the next few months I can help you on? I keep these notes in a calendar reminder to remind me every month and see how I'm working to improve on them.
  8. Be willing to help others – don't become solely focused on your projects or deadlines, but look around and help others. You never know…you just might need that other person's help sometime.
  9. Avoid taking long breaks – if you struggle with the addiction of smoking or typically take long breaks, then work on taking less and shorter breaks. In a tough economy employers are taking a hard look at productivity and how much value they are getting out of you. More than 15 minutes ever four hours is enough.
  10. Be humble yet confident in your abilities – most people think they that are “irreplaceable” or “could never be fired“. Anyone is replaceable. ANYONE! No one likes someone who is arrogant about their skills and abilities. Your boss and co-workers are watching your attitude. Stay humble.

Here are some other helpful articles that will help you keep your job!

What tips do you use to help yourself stay gainfully employed? What lessons have you learned from being laid off?

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  1. Terrific post, Charlie.

    I agree with your statement of “As much as I believe in God’s divine hand in keeping my job I also think we have a part in our employment as well. If I didn’t, then I’d sit at my desk all day, take naps on the clock, play fantasy football at work, and just pray that God would help me keep my job.”

    I would also like to add the following reasons on how not to get fired or laid off:

    Being late, either to work or turning in your projects late. This is similar to your #9 (long breaks), where time is important.
    Personal phone calls/excessive internet surfing (obvious).

    My favorite tip from you is #5, think of your family! Without them, why else would I need to provide?

  2. Jamie – I have to respectfully disagree with you. I think a lot of employers are taking advantage of people by making them work longer hours. For me, I come in at 7am and leave at 4pm. I hardly ever work longer, because that time after 4pm is my family’s. I’m not willing to compromise on that. That’s not to say I haven’t come in at 1am to fix some problem, but regularly I work hard during my 40 hours 7-4.

  3. I always show up to work early and leave a little later than everyone else. Show your boss that you are dedicated and you will not have to worry as much about losing your job.

  4. Great article. It was featured on the Frugal News Review podcast episode 9.

  5. Great tips. I think now more than ever people need to make sure they are doing an even better job compared to the person sitting next to them.

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