Job security: Gauge your value to the company

Turn on the news, and it won’t be long before you hear some pretty dire predictions about job cuts. Every industry, from banking to manufacturing, is facing tough times.

So if you haven’t done it lately, it’s a good time to think about the value you bring to your company.

Actually, I’m an advocate of this type of self-evaluation in good times and bad. If you’re not helping the company succeed, you’re hurting it. Eventually, someone figures that out. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Make a list and check it twice

The best protection you have against losing your job in a down economy is to be invaluable to your company. It may go without saying, but if your company is dependent upon your skills, knowledge and abilities, your job is safer than the job of the guy whose contributions are less clear.

So how do you gauge your value to the company? Sit down and make a list of the attributes that make you critical to your company’s success. Start with the obvious: technical skills, educational qualifications and the like. Then the less obvious, but perhaps more important: close relationships with customers that are vital to your company, important cross-functional skills, crucial industry knowledge and/or relationships.

And what about your attitude? Do you bring a passion and work ethic to your job that others lack? Write it down. 

This exercise is important for two reasons:

1. It will bolster your confidence (and position) if you have to defend your performance.

2. By analyzing yourself in this way, you will not only identify your strengths but your weaknesses as well.

Take the necessary action

    If you uncover weaknesses that could make your position vulnerable, now is the time to do something about it. Schedule an appointment with your boss. Ask for candid feedback about your performance and the value you bring to the company. Be clear that you are eager to make whatever changes may be needed to improve your performance as well as your skills and knowledge. Don’t stop there. Talk to colleagues. Get their honest feedback as well.

Then follow through. Take a class that will improve your skills. Join a professional association that will bring you up to speed on trends in your field. Join an industry group that will increase your visibility with customers and prospects while enhancing your opportunity to bring in new customers.  

Better position

Of course, if your company isn’t able to weather the economic downturn, your job won’t be safe no matter how valuable you are. But here’s the good news. If you are a top performer with outstanding skills and relationships, you’ll be in a better position to find another job. In fact, the relationships you nurture in your current position may be the very thing that helps you land on your feet if you lose your current position.

So while none of us can predict how bad the economy will get before it turns around, there are steps you can take to ensure that you protect your position and ensure your employability.

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