Education optimize

10 things you can do to ensure career survival in 2009

Protecting your job in this economic climate is a job in itself, but the effort can pay off. John McKee offers practical strategies for getting through tough times with your career intact.

Protecting your job in this economic climate is a job in itself, but the effort can pay off. John McKee offers practical strategies for getting through tough times with your career intact.


With unemployment rates climbing into the stratosphere and job prospects becoming increasingly tenuous, IT pros need to think strategically and act effectively to keep their heads above water. Here are some recommendations to help you safeguard your career during the months to come.

Note: This article is also available as a PDF download.

#1: Make a specific plan

I'm not talking about making a wish list which, like New Year's resolutions, will be forgotten by the third week of January. You want a plan that has specific goals for your job (what's the best role for you next?) and your income (exactly how much would you like to be making by the end of 2009?). Writing down your plans makes them concrete, and it's more likely you will attain them.

#2: SWOT yourself

Be honest with yourself. Review your strengths -- like what you've got that can move you ahead; weaknesses -- like those things you have or do that are holding you back; opportunities -- things you can pursue at the company or in the industry; and threats -- things that can derail you or sabotage your career advancement.

#3: Update your resume

Smart careerists are always ready for the next opportunity. Taking time to review and modify your resume before you want to send it to someone makes it a better product. This is often your first introduction to a new employer or boss -- so make sure it's topnotch.

#4: Invest in your career

Most people forget they really have two jobs. The first is to do what you get paid for and do it better than others. The second is to do what's required to ensure that your career isn't left to someone's wrong opinions that were made in your absence. Be in the office when your boss is. It gives you additional opportunity to let him or her get to know you for things other then the job you're currently filling.

#5: Get financially smart

Get involved with managing your financial affairs. Paying attention to money matters is one of the smartest and easiest ways to improve your personal balance sheet. There are many books and online courses on the subject of money management basics. Looking after your financial health doesn't take a lot of time; but it could save your life.

#6: Develop a sense of urgency

Many people think that working hard, being busy, and burning a lot of energy is equal to managing their career and life. It's not. Developing a sense of urgency means knowing how to pick through all those "to-do's" and focusing your time and energy on just the ones that count.

#7: Look up, not down

When downsizing is the operative word, developing your team is no longer the smartest way to ensure success. Spend less time with your staff members and more time looking after your boss' needs. When you show that you're working hard to make him or her look good, you'll stand out from the crowd. And your boss will be more likely to provide you with the resources that you and your team need to do the job better.

#8: Update your skill set

It pays to demonstrate that you are interested in "upgrading" yourself -- and in 2009, your ability to grow may be more important than ever. With unemployment now at record highs, demand for jobs greatly exceeds supply. Not staying on par with colleagues and those vying for your job will be a death knell. Take seminars, do coursework, or leverage other vehicles to get on the leading edge and thus, maximize your personal value to the organization.

#9: Self promote

Face it: Often, decisions are made affecting who gets moved upward and who gets downsized without your involvement. It's important that the decision makers know you and what you are doing. Have regular meetings with your boss or send regular e-mails to update those in charge about your contributions.

#10: Look after your loved ones

One way or another, when 2009 is done and over, you'll still be here and you're going to want those you care about to still be with you. While it's important to look after your job and career, don't neglect those who make life most worthwhile. Tell them you care and spend time with them "just for fun."

About

John M. McKee is the founder and CEO of BusinessSuccessCoach.net, an international consulting and coaching practice with subscribers in 43 countries. One of the founding senior executives of DIRECTV, his hands-on experience includes leading billion d...

26 comments
tariq.nawar
tariq.nawar

Thanks I like what you write.Thans for advice

Photogenic Memory
Photogenic Memory

I like praise like anyone else for doing a good job. However, purposely sucking up looks bad to me. It's not respectable at all. However, those that do it get all the marbles and do go far. We've all seen it. It a fast road to success or to something else entirely. I have no idea and probably never will. It's not in my creed and I'm okay with it. I just like doing a good job. This article is great. Thank you for posting it, John. Things are so tight employment wise these days. There's so much fear about job loss. After reading this; I have lots of work to do. Time to get cracking.

tim uk
tim uk

You hit the nail on the head there. What really gets me is the way that those who are sucking up can laugh at the bosses', er, jokes and witty comments, you'd think he was the greatest stand-up comic ever. I'm so horrified at them that I can't even think about how to join in.

Photogenic Memory
Photogenic Memory

As long as there are opportunities to be gained; people are there to take advantage of them. It's just that some people do it in very very very disingenuous manner. And they don't care! The benefits outweigh the moral implications in their opinion. For the people that "receive" the sucking up to, LOL( goodness the imagery here! ); they get satisfaction from it and use'em up. It's a shitty cycle. I can see it and a lot of people such as ourselves want no part in it especially if it's for a boss that has no integrity. Sorry for the run-on sentence. I major in them, hehe. The article is great and reminds me to sharpen my skills to make my value go up. I'll follow most if except for #7. No way EVER even if it hurts! I'll just have to make my own opportunities instead. I respect that more. Have a good morning and stay true to your self, Tim.

gayathri
gayathri

Nice read. What a wonderful article. One of best read articles of the year. The simplicity of article is amazing. You rule. Regards, SBL Graphics

muthuraj.cs
muthuraj.cs

it is realy good for all it prifessional,

dmiles
dmiles

The survivor list is nothing new it has valid points on how to survive. Yes #7 sounds disturbing,yet is happpens all the time and I for one don't agreee with a way to advance should be to stand out by kissing up,but individuals will resort to it and those in charge will will reap the benefits.It's sad but true,very few that play by the rules seldom make up the ladder. Less qualified but more willing.

richxxwood
richxxwood

"leverage other vehicles" - what on earth does that mean?

joel11zon
joel11zon

Way to go jhoughton! Agreed on all items except item #7, teaches you how to become kiss ass!

wzrobin
wzrobin

Stop being a team player, and start kissing arse. Nice message.

daileyml
daileyml

There are other key things that you should be doing--and should have been doing for a while--to help maintain your employment in this economy. I believe the most important thing to do is increase your positive exposure and visibility within the organization. When upper management sits down to decide who can be cut and who can not you want everyone in the room agreeing that you are too valuable to let go. I detailed some of my thoughts on how to do this in my blog post "Keeping Your IT Job in a Downtrodden Economy". You can find the post here if interested: http://daileymuse.com/2009/01/technical-jobs-in-a-downtrodden-economy/ Please drop me a note and let me know your opinion. I think we'd all like to share thoughts on staying afloat in this economy. -Mike D http://www.daileymuse.com

Da Saint
Da Saint

#10 is the best You can always get another job, but you should never lose your family because of one.

c.walters
c.walters

1) plan time for exercise 2) have good meels 3) get enough rest at night ==> now you got the energy to do an awesome job

dbecker
dbecker

I would suggest that Tech Republic has sunk to a new low. While some of the advice is prudent, it comes from a quite unethical framework. Some of the points have been employed by such great firms as Enron and Global Crossings. The current economic crisis in the United States is the fruit of such posturing. It's no wonder that HR now stands for "Hypocritical Rats". To coin a phrase from two millenia ago: May your money perish with thee.

chris
chris

I guess the "hope" is that your boss will see your commitment to the organization and will leave the control of you team up to you????

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

were safe guarding a career, and some were safeguarding you current employment. Particularly number 7. Self defeating anyway that, your entire team disappears underneath you, you end up with a brown nose and no job. Big your team up, it's valuable because it's well led....

Osiyo53
Osiyo53

If you've got to abandon and perhaps back stab your peers and teammates and brown nose your boss ... it's time to go hunting another job anyway. The situation is FUBAR. It's a no-win situation. If you're any sort of regular human being, you've just lost self respect. It's likely now that those who work for and with you are simply going to return the favor. Either putting forth their minimal efforts, making you look bad. And/or actively trying to undercut you, sabotage your efforts, or whatever. And if the boss is worth working for in the first place, he or she is gonna see what you're doing. I've been a boss. When I see someone willing to just turn his back on everyone else, who is ONLY looking out for himself, and who is engaging in excessive brown nosing ... I could never trust that person. And would ditch him or her at the first opportunity. Now, some folks might claim I'm a COMPANY man. And they'd be right. The term COMPANY derives from words that originally meant, "to share bread". When I work for a company, when I take their paycheck, I work for them ... ALL of them. And do my best to see that the whole company thrives. I take the attitude that we're all in it together. I do my best to see that everyone survives and thrives. It's not always possible. But all the way to the last possible moment I'll do all in my power to see that my teammates are retained, have work, and get to share bread. If one or more HAVE to be let go, it won't be because I simply abandoned them and was only interested in my own survival. Where I work now, we pretty much work on this principle. We have times of plentiful work and times where it is slow. If the slow times continue long enough, layoffs are considered. Everyone here knows that. But our most successful teams close up ranks in such times. Each member trying to help the other. For instance, in a period of slow business, its common for one man who has a little extra work to ask another, "How is it going this week? How is your schedule? Have you got work enough to keep you busy? If not, I've got a bit of extra I can set you to working on." And the teams will take advantage of the slow period to put heads together and try to figure out ways to improve the TEAM performance and productivity. Compare notes on or favorite methods and techniques for doing something better. Take a man of lessor abilities under wing and provide him some additional training/personal tutoring. Etc and so forth. That's the way we look at it. If we can make our team perform better, we can improve the company's profit, and thus perhaps everyone gets to keep their jobs. Or, at least most of them. Heck if one department or team is slow as concerns their work load, its common for the department head or team leader to ask other departments/teams if they could use some temporary help from one of his people. IMHO ... this is the way things should work. When things degenerate down to "It's every man or woman for themselves, screw the rest of you." the odds are I've already turned in my notice and started job hunting. Or am long gone. Can't and won't work for an outfit like that. Why bother? You'll always be looking behind your back wondering when someone is gonna sink in the knife. At least the way we do things where I work, if a guy or gal HAS to be laid off. He or she understands everyone tried their best to make it otherwise. Getting laid off still sucks. But that's life, it happens. At least the laid off person doesn't feel betrayed by co-workers and friends. And, who knows, later on when things improve the company often seeks out that laid off person if he or she was a worthy worker and asks em to come back. If the person was a valuable player, you stand a better chance that they'll return. An outfit I used to work for went thru a business cycle where they laid off a goodly number of their best techs and engineers. Many others, seeing the writing on the walls and no longer liking to work for that place anyway, just turned in their notices and left. Before the layoffs, the place had turned into an ugly one to work for. Lots of brown nosing, lots of back stabbing and sucking up. Net result was that several months later the business cycle reversed and plentiful work was available. That outfit found that it did not have the manpower left to handle the work. AND ... they found out that a lot of those suck-ups and brown nosers were not nearly as good as they'd made out to be. As concerns technical proficiency, efficiency at getting things done, and so forth. So that organization made a made scramble to try to recall some of those ex-employees. DESPERATELY needed them. To the best of my knowledge, NONE of the former employees accepted the recall. At least of the 50 or so I was personally acquainted with and friends with (good to excellent technicians and engineers) none went back. And I still maintained contact with a friend in the main office who still worked there, and she told me she'd not heard of any of the former employees who'd taken up the offer to return to their old jobs. In fact several had banded together and formed their own, new company. And were working hard to take business away from that former employer. And were being quite successful at it. Hurting them big time. Just some thoughts.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

is to find some one who can already do the job. So if you leave a lot of your people lying about where someone else can pick them up... If you got someone's resume and they worked somewhere, left for a few months and then went back and now they were looking again. What would it say to you? You might as well right I'm an idiot who doesn't know what he wants on a piece of paper in purple wax crayon and send that in.....

jhoughton
jhoughton

I think number 7 is sad! while I see what you are trying to say, it smells like "kissing up" and not looking down. no one should have to kiss the boss in order to keep their job, and thats what I believe number 7 is, its not to get resources. Thats my opinion. j.

mattie289404
mattie289404

I know this is an old thread but I am responding to you personally. I have been on both sides, I have spent many years as a Human Resources Manager and another 10 years as a General Manager for a business that had around 80 employees, and I have also been released for downsizing. The owner is a Opthamologist, so he knows his medicine but not much about business so I was given full authority to hire/fire. I gotta tell from experience, the people making the decision are human beings, when it comes down to laying off sometimes its a tie as to who goes. Sometimes layoffs get rid of some of the people in a job category, and the ones with a advantage are the ones who made an effort to meet me, kept me updated as to what they were doing, and general chit-chat. They stayed while others were cut, its a lot easier to fire someone if you don't know them. Don't confuse office politics with sucking up, but it is a fact of life. You may sleep better not doing it, but you may not have any money to buy breakfast..

Osiyo53
Osiyo53

"Sometimes layoffs get rid of some of the people in a job category, and the ones with a advantage are the ones who made an effort to meet me, kept me updated as to what they were doing, and general chit-chat." There is a difference between "sucking up" and keeping those above you informed of who and what you are, what you are about, and what you're doing for the organization. Right or wrong, bosses and managers do not always know perhaps as much as they should about their people and what's really going on out "in the field". I say that having been both the "boss" of 135 people, and one of those semi-anonymous workers who just went about doing whatever work was necessary. Years ago, a lot of years ago, I found myself in a job where I was constantly running around fixing stuff. Putting in a lot of long hours without any extra pay. That part didn't bother me. What did bother me was that none of the people who mattered (those who were above me) knew about any of this. OTOH, I worked with a guy who talked well, talked often, and did a lot of schmoozing with the higher ups. Net result, they thought the fellow walked on water. In reality, he never did a lick of work he could get out of. Talked as if he was the most knowledgeable person around in our work, but in truth others of us were constantly fixing something he screwed up or had just jury-rigged as versus properly fixing. At first I was unaware of all that. I just went about doing my job as I saw it, pretty much keeping my mouth shut. I'm not much of an office socializer, anyway. But then that fellow got a promotion, and WORSE ... from my point of view ... he got sent off to a technical school I'd very much been hoping to get. I was more than just a little miffed. I was disgusted. And seriously considering quitting. But then a senior fellow in a department I worked with (not for, he wasn't in my chain of command) saw what was going on and took me out for a few drinks and a talk. He explained to me that one of my problems was that I wasn't communicating well, or much, with my superiors. They really didn't have any idea what I was doing or contributing to the organization day in and day out. In essence he explained that I needed to make more efforts in that regard. He said that it wasn't necessary for me to play kiss up, but I needed to make myself and my efforts visible to them. Which I did, accomplished in a variety of ways. I really didn't want to be seen as a suck up. But, darn it, I wanted my due notice. So I made it a point of being up and at work early. I knew when the Chief Engineer first arrived at his office. Made it a point to be there talking to his admin staff and updating the part of the job status board that reflected those things I was responsible for when he'd first arrive. On my daily work reports, I elaborated more than I had in the past. More details. More details about unusually difficult issues faced and how I overcame those. Made it a point in the later day to review those issues that were outstanding, which would be priorities to the Chief Engineer, that he'd surely ask about first thing the next morning. Then spent extra time to take care of those issues that evening. Would write up the paperwork indicating the problems were fixed, or tasks accomplished, and would leave those ON TOP of the other papers in his in-basket so he'd see them first thing in the morning and know he could dismiss them from his mind as worries. Little things like that. The point was that he became more aware of what I was doing, what issues I faced, how I came up with solutions. And so forth. Worked for me. Instead of being just another anonymous worker bee, he started remembering my name. Started asking for my input on difficulties the department faced. And so forth. Then one day, some time later (months) I submitted a request for that technical school I'd so seriously desired. He not only approved it, he called me into his office to inform me of the fact personally, shake my hand, and tell me that I DESERVED the school despite the expense of it to the organization. The thing is, in actual work, I hadn't done any more than I'd done before. It was just that before, he'd not really known what I was doing day in and day out. Nor about difficulties faced, good solutions achieved, etc. No, I never made any comment about that other guy's lacks or failures (in my view). I don't play that game of trying to make myself look better by pointing out another person's faults. Later in life, when I was myself "the boss" I made it a point to be aware of the fact that some folks go quietly about their business, never tooting their own horn, even tho a particular person might be outstanding in performance. Made it a point to get up from my desk often and to circulate around, just observing my people. So I'd have a good idea of who was who, and who was the outstanding performer as versus just average (or less than that). But not all people with hiring and firing authority do that, or can do that. So, yea, sometimes you need to do those things necessary to make sure your superiors know you, know your abilities and your contributions.

chris
chris

my brother works as a temp at MS and watches others go out and play hockey with the managers. he complains that even though he does a better job, he gets overlooked. the flip side is, the managers "know" these other guys better, therefore trusts them and is willing to give them more responsibility. so, how do you achieve one without the other?

Christian_
Christian_

Brown nosing, kissing up will come to an end and it gets someone fast short term but long-term it always ends like it started. Like a rocket it goes up fast, and falls down slow to nothing. No Morals/Values/Character = Empty shell...

mcdermidh
mcdermidh

Sorry to say but these are exactly the people that are deciding our futures. Whether they reach thier level of incompetence on our backs or someone else's they always seem to get there, they may get no further but when your pulling over a $100,000 a year who cares. Having said that, I have no problems looking myself or my team in the eye.