With the way businesses shift and change, downsizing and rightsizing at will, it is difficult for anyone to feel truly 'safe' with their jobs today. However, the company has to keep someone during these changes and the ideal situation is for one of them to be you!
Although there are clearly no guarantees that I can offer you, I can give you the following tips that you can follow today, which just may prove to be your life-preserver tomorrow.
1. Consider that every day at work... is an interview for your job. In an interview you are making an effort to put your best foot forward, ensuring that you are seen in the best possible light. Don't stop. Career guru Barbara Moses likens this to the difference between dating and marriage. When dating you suck in your gut and highlight all of your positive attributes. When married things may tend to slack off a little. You no longer are 'selling'. If you are employed by someone else you must constantly be selling yourself.
2. Add value. When it comes to being seen as someone who adds value to the organization and is worth retaining, it helps if you are someone who is truly adding value. Don't mistake 'busyness' with value. This is not about just getting 'stuff' done, it is about getting the 'right stuff' done. If you aren't engaged in activities - every day - that are making a difference to the company's bottom line then go and find some that do. If you're simply keeping busy pushing paper then, when forced to take cost cutting measures, they will find a cheaper way of pushing that paper around.
3. Build your Brand and Profile. When it comes to making the decisions about who to keep and who to cut, your reputation in the company will have a significant influence over which list you hit. Take the time now to assess what your current perception within the organization is, what your key differentiators are, and start consciously building a brand that highlights your worth. You must work at building this before you need it, and you must do so both consciously and strategically. If you don't have the level of self-awareness needed to clearly assess how you are currently viewed then find someone to help you determine this. You can't build strategies from an inaccurate base of understanding.
4. Take charge of your career development. Lamenting that the company failed to train you for the requisite skills of the future does nothing to help you when you are out of work. Your career is your responsibility, which means that your development is also. Working for a company that will pay for this development is a privilege, not a job requirement. Although it may be in their best interest to keep your skills current, it is not their responsibility. If they aren't investing in you... then you need to. This is how you stay marketable, both internally and externally. You don't hurt anyone but yourself by taking a back seat in your development.
5. Build relationships with key Decision Makers. It is always easier to make decisions to cut employees that are simply names on a sheet of paper. These kinds of decisions are tough to make at the best of times and are much more difficult when you have an established relationship with the person. The more that you create visibility with decision makers, helping them to know and understand who you are and what you bring to the table, the easier it will be for them to keep you on board. The more that they know, like, and respect you and the value you bring, the easier it will be for them to justify keeping you on board.
Although you can't be one hundred percent positive of a company's ongoing need for your services, you can take charge of ensuring that you remain and indispensable to them as possible. The nice side benefit of course, is that the better you position yourself within your current organization, the more marketable you are to others. Therefore, ensuring you are indispensable today also serves to make you a top candidate in the job market. You know... just in case!