Life is never fair. People train for a career, work hard to get ahead, and are now finding themselves facing the unemployment line. Is there a trick to staying off unemployment? Obviously, no one can guarantee continued employment in a career, but here are a few tips-from an employee who is now a small business owner-to increase job security, and avoid unemployment.
Cancel the Protestant work ethic. The Protestant work ethic of, “Work hard to get ahead,” isn’t dead, but it’s not dancing a jig, either. Just working hard in a career won’t keep most workers out of the unemployment line. Many people are worried about unemployment and they’re already doing their best on the job. Because of layoffs, they carry increased job responsibilities, with the same or decreased pay. Why are some in more secure positions than others? Because they are proactive in their careers, ensuring they’re seen as essential and thus are less worried about unemployment. Give yourself an edge by becoming proactive-make sure management is aware of how essential you are. The idea, “Never blow your own horn” was a part of the Protestant work ethic, too, but to avoid unemployment, management needs to know you’re worth keeping. Starting today, and without being arrogant, let them know you’re not only working hard, but are worth keeping.
Convey an attitude. This tip might seem counter-intuitive, and when I mention it to people, they scratch their heads and find it hard to believe that conveying an attitude will keep them from unemployment. The trick is to convey the right attitude. Never give management the feeling that you’re desperate about a job, and that you’ll do anything to keep it. Instead, without being flippant, convey the attitude that if you didn’t have this job … well … someone else would find you valuable. Conveying the right attitude is a fine line to walk, so be careful not to come across sounding like you don’t care if you’re laid off. It isn’t a case of not needing the job, it’s that there are other employers who would find you valuable in your career field.
Cultivate a niche. Of all the actions that will be most successful at staving off unemployment in a career, this is the one to take. Every position has little niches that can be turned into job security. Unemployment is out of the question when an individual is good at doing something essential that no one else knows how to do. For example, a woman I once knew worked part time at inputting data. However, in dealing with the computer program, she discovered little “tricks” that allowed her to fix problems when none of her full time co-workers were able. Having a niche kept her from unemployment. So, look around, see what needs to be done that no one else is doing, and fill the niche.
To paraphrase Albert Einstein, failure is continuing to do the same things and expecting different results. Yes, an individual still has to work hard in a chosen career, but simply working hard is basically continuing to do the same thing and expecting a different outcome. Try canceling the old cliches about getting ahead in a career, cultivating a niche, and conveying an attitude. It just might save you from unemployment!
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