Career Advice

4 Ways to Protect Yourself From a Layoff

Whether because of mergers, downsizing, or organizational shifts, each year, countless workers inevitably find themselves losing their jobs through no fault of their own. It happens to the most seasoned and dedicated among us, and that’s perhaps the scariest thing about getting laid off — no one is immune. That said, there are certain steps you can take to minimize your chances of getting laid off, and reduce your anxiety along the way.

1. Have a unique skill

Though soft skills — those that apply to virtually any position — are always a good thing to work on, at the end of the day, you’re probably not going to get to keep your job in a round of layoffs by virtue of your solid time-management ability alone. That’s why it pays to work on honing one particular skill you know your company absolutely needs. If you’re an IT professional, maybe it’s a complex software that’s needed to keep the workflow going. If you’re a designer, maybe it’s that cutting-edge graphics program that’s been giving your company its competitive edge. No matter what skill you’re best suited to focus on, if you set yourself apart as the one person who’s an expert in that arena, your company might hesitate to give you the boot.

2. Know the business inside and out

Maybe you’re the best copy director your company has ever seen. But if your knowledge base is limited to effective sales pitches, and you’re not well-versed in market research, finances, or analytics, then you might still find yourself out of a job if your company is forced to slash positions. On the other hand, if you make an effort to educate yourself on all aspects of the business, your company will have a much harder time letting you go.

How do you get there? Sit in on other teams’ meetings, and ask to collaborate with various groups on recurring projects. The more exposure you get to different areas of your company and how they work, the more your management team might end up fighting to keep you.

3. Keep up with your business associates

It’s no secret that networking has been proved to help countless searchers land jobs, but many people find themselves networking defensively — that is, they only start reconnecting with contacts once they’re out of a job and need help. But if you make a point to stay in solid touch with your associates regularly, you’ll protect yourself in the face of layoffs in two ways.

First, if you network extensively within your company, you’ll have more people around to speak highly of you, which might spare you from getting the ax. Second, if you have associates you contact regularly, you won’t come across as taking advantage by reaching out for help if you are indeed let go. Or to put it another way, it’s a lot easier to ask a favor of someone you’re in touch with regularly than to sneak up as a blast from the past wanting assistance.

4. Boost your emergency savings

Having more money in the bank won’t do a thing to help you avoid losing your job. What it willdo, however, is buy you some peace of mind that if you are let go, you won’t have to immediately resort to credit card debt just to keep up with your finances. Having that stress removed might, in turn, help you focus better at work, thus reducing your chances of landing on the chopping block. Plus, if you are laid off, you’ll be less pressured into taking the first job you find because you’re desperate for money.

Though layoffs are sometimes inevitable, there are things you can do to lower your odds when your company is going through them. If anything, working on the above suggestions will give you someplace to focus your energy so you’re not utterly fixated on the thought of losing your job.

This article was originally published on The Motley Fool. It is reprinted with permission.

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