The average worker changes jobs 10 to 15 times over the course of their careers. While there is nothing wrong with changing jobs, you always want it to be on your terms. That means that whether you love your job, hate it, or simply see it as a means to an end, there are times when your main concern is about simply keeping it. Perhaps your profession or industry is in decline, or maybe the economy is in the tank. When employers are cutting jobs at a dizzying pace, it's time to hunker down and focus on protecting your position within the organization.
With the goal of job preservation in mind, here are some crucial dos and don'ts for how to keep a job in good times and in bad.
How to Keep a Job: The Do's
- Do your job well. If you aren't happy at work, it shows in your job performance and may even push you out the door ahead of colleagues. When thinking about how to keep a job, always strive to excel at work (whether you love it or hate it).
- Do help your boss do their job well. "The No. 1 thing in job security is your relationship with your boss," says author and former human resource executive Cynthia Shapiro. For example, look for ways to make your boss's and teammates' jobs easier, raising your value to the team.
- Do keep your boss informed of your assignments, especially as you finish major projects. If your boss isn't aware of all your accomplishments, it makes it much easier for them to see you as expendable when budgets are cut.
- Do become a "company man" or "company woman." Put in the hours to show that the company's goals are your goals, and be prepared to occasionally arrive early and stay late — and work hard all day long.
- Do aim to keep your skills and certifications current, especially the ones appreciated by your employer. Better yet, a great way to keep a job is to obtain new skills that will make you even better at it.
- Do keep an open mind. You may be asked to work two jobs or take on responsibilities you never imagined — or that you know you won't like — but be open to new job duties and responsibilities, especially if it means securing your position for at least the short term. Use such changes in role to justify a budget request for new skills training.
- Do volunteer for new projects or help complete tasks previously done by others who have already been laid off. Showing your care and concern — even if it makes your job harder and longer — goes a long way to securing your spot with the organization.
- Do continue networking both inside and outside your company. Building relationships is the name of the game in career success. By increasing your network inside the organization, you build your reputation and better protect your position. By increasing your network outside the organization, you increase your chances of succeeding in your job search should you lose your job.
- Do look for opportunities to build your professional brand, growing your esteem in the eyes of your employer and making them less reluctant to part ways with you. Consider writing position papers or other articles for your professional association, developing your personal website, and growing your influence on social networking sites — all with the idea of strengthening your digital presence and attracting others to you, making networking easier.
- Do keep your resume current. You never know when you'll need it. While it's good practice to always to keep your resume regularly updated with your most recent accomplishments, it's especially important in times when your current position is not very secure. Use LiveCareer's professional resume builder to easily create and maintain an effective resume.
How to Keep a Job: The Don'ts
- Don't be part of the problem — as the cliché goes — unless you're ready to be part of the solution. Criticism is best when it's constructive, and a way to keep your job is to become known as a problem solver.
- Don't stand out for the wrong reasons. Don't be the one to complain about the snacks in the break room, argue over the temperature in the office, or otherwise act as if you are entitled to things your employer doesn't currently offer.
- Don't grab the limelight. While it's important for your boss to know that you're doing great work, you don't want to be seen as a prima donna who doesn't recognize the same by others. Make sure the boss knows about your accomplishments, but also make sure the team gets credit.
- Don't bad-mouth or back-stab team members or colleagues. The office gossip doesn't make a great impression.
- Don't ask for a promotion or raise if the organization is struggling and workers are being laid off. You'll either look like a fool or an egomaniac who's out of touch with what's happening around you at work.
- Don't give up. If it appears your job is in serious trouble, you may be able to negotiate to keep your job by working fewer hours or by taking a temporary pay cut.
- Don't put off developing a backup plan. Whether your employer is in trouble or your industry is shrinking, you can't just go to work and pretend that everything is fine. Focus on how to keep your job, but protect yourself with a plan for dealing with a potential layoff, including a job search strategy and a savings and budget plan. Don't wait for it to happen.
- Don't lose sight of your goals, ultimately. While you may feel stuck in your current job — with no short-term options for escape — stay focused on your long-term job and career strategies. While you may need to adjust your timetable, keep building toward your goals.
Most jobseekers will face times when they have to maximize their efforts to protect and keep their jobs — even jobs they may not particularly like or enjoy. By following the advice in this article, you'll learn how to keep your job while also keeping a foot in the job market so that you're ready to find another job when the need arises.