These days, everyone is feeling the pinch. And as topsy-turvy markets lead to smaller expense accounts, cancelled holiday parties, and even the closing of long-standing companies, it's natural to feel a little skittish about your job security. Declaring doomsday in your cubicle, though, is the last thing you want to do, says Stephen Viscusi, author of Bulletproof Your Job.
"There's no time to waste worrying with an unemployment rate at a 14-year high of 6.5 percent and climbing," says Viscusi, who helms a New York-based executive search firm. "Start working to protect your job instead." His three simple strategies can help you weather the economic storm, paycheck in tow.
DON'T BE A GRUMBLER
Put simply, your attitude matters. In the midst of fiscal turmoil, there's no room for Divas. Shaky times can sink office morale, and no boss wants a troublemaker around adding to that. "Even good performers who are high-maintenance can't escape the prospect of job loss," says Viscusi. "Arrogance just isn't going to cut it in the workplace anymore."
If you've ever been prone to carping about the incompetent office temp, the lack of company-issued iPhones or how your bite-size cube is cramping your style—even in hushed tones—now's the time to adjust your behavior and your outlook.
REVAMP YOUR FACEBOOK PAGE
Employers do look—and regularly. Social media sites provide a fun way of keeping in touch, but remember that people may assume things about you (rightly or wrongly) based on the personal-life details you post online. "It's not enough to remove the pictures of the party you went to last weekend or the tattoo convention you stumbled upon in Vegas. Make an effort to understand your corporate culture and how Facebook relates to that," says Viscusi.
Go a step further, he suggests, by removing snapshots of the luxe accommodations you sprang for in July or the pricey, high-end boots you splurged on. "In these times it's easy for employers to say decisions are economy-driven, but unfortunately there may be other surprising reasons job-cut decisions are made—and workers may never hear about them," says Viscusi. "You don't want to send the message that you're spending money aimlessly because you don't need your paycheck and can afford to lose your job."
BE EXTRA USEFUL
Don't let the prospect of layoffs worry you to the point that you stop doing your job. Twiddling your thumbs and waiting for the ax to fall won't do anyone, especially your boss, a snippet of good.
"If you're serious about wanting to keep your job," says Viscusi, "cutting corners on projects and completing items to a good-enough level simply won't do. In hard times, bosses are going to have edicts to let employees go. Put in the extra effort and be the happy, productive employee they'd like to see stick around." Meet your responsibilities—and then some: Look for opportunities to take on a special project or pitch in to help out a colleague or your boss.