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The question I'm being asked these days is a doozy: "How can I inoculate myself from getting laid off?"

Try as I may I don't have the definitive answer. I hear about remarkable people that have done everything right and yet they've been clobbered by the downturn.

But if you are currently employed or ready to get back to work (and when I say ready I mean your confidence is intact and your attitude is gung-ho all the way), you can certainly increase your indispensable aura by eliminating these annoying (and ubiquitous) tics:

Return your emails. This is a major issue for people who rely on time-sensitive information. If you're on email learn how to use it to reflect your professional and personal best.

Return your phone calls. Yeah, yeah, you're busy but that's not the message we're getting when we don't hear from you. We're hearing "I'm too busy for you" and if that's the case, level with us.

Show up, fully present. A vibrating phone in your pocket is a distraction. A blackberry trilling in your jacket is a distraction. Stay focused – it's tough out there.

Keep learning. A young colleague of mine just landed a plum job with a publishing company. She called and asked if I could recommend a book that would get her up to speed on copyediting. That's the ticket to success – never be satisfied with anything less than exceptional.

We're watching…everything you do. Even if you're out of the office, you're under somebody's surveillance (sure it's creepy but it's the truth).

Virtual networking carries some risks. Yes, Facebook and Linkedin are wonderful for connecting. But every employer I speak with says they automatically do a little online search before hiring someone for their company. (Hint: Delete photos and content that could be misinterpreted).

Stay connected. Even if your job is rock solid, you need to stay in touch with all the Paul Reveres in your life so that you're not caught blindsided by a pink slip.

In a crisis, leaders must be emotionally expressive and available (i.e. stop 'phoning it in.')

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