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Impact Of The Financial Crises On The Job Market: Steps To Prevent A Potential Loss Of A Job
by Deborah Hildebrand

Everyone is concerned because of the current downturn in the economy and the crashing financial markets that saw the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the purchase of Merrill Lynch by Bank of America and the $85 billion bail out of AIG by the U.S. government. And while home prices continue to decline and more employers reduce overhead by cutting jobs or go out of business completely, the unemployment rate climbs ever onward (over 6 percent now) and employees fear the worse.

For anyone who finds himself standing in the desert of possible job loss, now is not the time to bury your head in the sand. It may not be that you’ll be able to prevent a cutback at your organization; however, at least you can prepare yourself for what might possibly come next.

Keeping Your Head Off the Chopping Block

It goes without saying that employers are more likely to keep employees who add value to the organization. That means finding that something that you contribute that other employees either won’t or can’t. Do you have technical skills that others lack? How about an area of knowledge that your coworkers don’t quite seem to grasp? These tidbits of talent can work in your favor.

Another way to protect your job is by developing positive working relationships, not just with your peers, but with your supervisor and her supervisor. Office politics might not be your cup of tea, but they are a very real part of the corporate environment and it’s best to know who the players are and to befriend the winning team. This doesn’t mean you have to be close friends with everyone, just don’t get on anyone’s bad side.

The most valuable employees are the ones that learn and grow. To increase your value as an employee pursue outside courses as well as employer-sponsored development opportunities. Learn about the business, the industry, and your employer’s competitors by asking questions and reading current events. Understand company policy, procedures and systems.

Getting a Pink Slip

Sometimes no matter what strategy you try, nothing will save your job from being cut from the company roster. That means you need to have a backup plan which should include a map to other opportunities either within or outside the organization.

If you work for a large enough firm, there may be jobs in other segments – departments, divisions, or locations – that have suddenly become available due to the reorganization that resulted in your lay off. Or if the cutbacks result in reduced hours or pay for your current position, don’t just dismiss the idea without giving it some thought. It may be what saves your bacon until you can find something else.

That being said, a reduction in force just may mean you now have to look for a new opportunity elsewhere. First and foremost, take care of your mental and physical well being by avoiding unhealthy habits like smoking and drinking to excess, and be sure to eat well and get plenty of exercise and sleep.

Next, if you are fortunate enough to have any forewarning before being laid off, take action before it happens. Look at your financial picture. This includes how much you have on hand, where you can cut expenses and how much you will take with you when you leave. Investigate your company’s severance policy, outplacement services, and rehire policy as well as your accrued and unused vacation time, COBRA rights, and 401k or retirement plan.

A good exit strategy also means to start ramping up your job hunt. While your network should have been working all along, now is the time to kick it into overdrive, before you’re out the door. Consider options you might otherwise overlook like relocation, part-time employment and changing careers. Keep in mind that now is the time to be flexible and available.

Economic times might be tough right now, but you can be tougher. And by planning ahead you might find yourself in a better situation than where you are now.

Published: Sep 18,2008 12:07
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