Tips for recession-proofing your job

Published 10:10 am Wednesday, May 27, 2009

So, you survived the downsizing, lay-off, or the workplace reengineering. Great!

Now what? Nothing says “keep me” better than being the ultra-valuable person your organization wants — no, needs — to retain. Start with these steps:

1. Language learning. Learning Spanish is a no-brainer, but have you considered Mandarin (Chinese), Hindi, or Arabic? Even though your present duties aren’t tied to any international operations, chances are they soon will be in today’s global economy.

Let’s not forget English. Being able to express yourself verbally and possessing excellent writing skills can go a long way. You can obtain these skills by enrolling in a local college, visiting a public library, or purchasing language CDs/DVDs.

2. Voracious volunteering. Look for “community service” opportunities within your own corporate community. Yes, it means more work for you, but aren’t you doing more anyway if there are unfilled positions? Banish the “woe is me” attitude and adopt the “how can I make things better” mindset.

3. “Soft” skill-set. Getting a diploma or degree may be a necessary and good thing to do, but while you’re upgrading, remember your business etiquette, body language, and personal accountability skills. If a second round of reductions comes, help them skip you by being an employee they’re proud of. Learn how to make introductions, shake hands, and carry on a thoughtful conversation. Handle your increased pressure maturely, recover from mistakes graciously, and accept responsibility quickly.

While there’s no guarantee employing these strategies will keep your job safe, they will increase your value. The mere fact you’re being proactive and taking charge of your professional life will increase your confidence, propel you past your peers, and may reduce your likelihood of being the next casualty in this economic war.

Victoria Ashford is a trainer, speaker, writer, entrepreneur and the executive director of Excelcis Training and Consulting Inc. Find more information at