How secure do you feel in your current position? Do you wake every morning with the uneasy thought, "Will I still have a job tomorrow?" Or do you start worrying at the beginning or end of every quarter?
Job security is not what it once was. Loyalty seems to end at the bottom line, leaving employees only a percentage point away from being jettisoned.
But you're not completely powerless. There are things you can do to decrease your chances of getting that pink slip in your next paycheck. In fact, I have 10 things you can do that will serve as routes to job security.
Let's take a look at what you can do to help yourself out.
1: Get back to basics
Sometimes we forget one of the most important elements of our job: the basics. IP subnetting, cable routing, desktop administration, printing, application management... those things that got you in the door of the IT profession in the first place. If you (and your fellow staff) are concerned about job security, this might be the perfect time to bolster your basic skills.
Make sure the powers-that-be know you've got their backs on everything from server migration to setting up and supporting end-user desktops, running cable, and managing antivirus and malware tools. Our propensity is to want to show off our high-level skills (which is a must), but sometimes you just have to remind them you've still got the basics. It's a mathematician forgetting how to do simple math. Don't let that happen.
2: Help grow the business
Over the years, you've probably had some great ideas that might have been ideal for helping the company grow. For whatever reason, you opted to keep them to yourself. Now might be the right time to voice those ideas and show those who might sign the pending pink slips that you're always thinking with a nod to the future. Your ideas may be shot down, but at least you'll demonstrate that you have ideas. Who knows, an innovation that could save the company might well come from you. Imagine the job security you'd gain from that (at least in theory).
3: Grow yourself
Let's face it: One of the quickest ways to irrelevancy in IT is to get behind the curve. That curve grows steeper with every passing year and the moment you get lost in the wash of progress, you are finished. Make sure you are always learning about the latest trends, keep yourself updated on security issues, ensure that you're up to date on everything new and shiny in the business. Take classes and/or workshops, and read, read, read. Do not fall behind or you'll fall into the unemployment line.
4: Help improve how your company uses tech
It's easy to fall into the old trap of A is used for X and B is used for Y. It's only when you can see new uses for technology that you rise above the average. This is especially true now that mobility has become such a powerful force in business. How do you leverage tablets or hybrid machines to help end users get more work done? How do you implement smart devices in ways others might not have considered? Be inventive and solve problems the company didn't even know it had.
5: Get your company on the IoT bandwagon
The Internet of Things (nay, of Everything) isn't going away. If your company isn't making use of the many innovations around those technologies, it's falling behind. And if no one has suggested how best to incorporate IoT into your business, take up the mantel and offer a few suggestions. You might just get the ball rolling... which could wind up saving the company a bit of money (for instance, on smart thermostats)... which could go a long way toward bolstering your job security.
6: Go above and beyond
You have a job description. You've spent the vast majority of your job following that description to a T. Now it's time to venture outside that description to prove how valuable you are to the company. This doesn't mean stepping on other people's toes... let them do their jobs. But just because you're a network security admin doesn't mean you can't help carry trash out to the dumpster or tidy up the server room. Or maybe the desktop admin is crushed under the weight of a holiday schedule. Offer a helping hand rolling out the newest version of the software running the company. Reach out and help.
7: Beef up your people skills
You might have thought a career in IT would allow you to avoid interaction with people—that you'd wind up spending all day in a server room or in an office coding. But helping people is part and parcel of the job description. Even if you're a net admin, you'll sometimes have to step into an end user's office and solve a problem. When you do, if you have no clue how to interact with those end users, it's going to reflect negatively on you. This is a great time to improve those people skills so you don't give anyone a reason to want to cut you loose from the company.
8: Don't be a know-it-all
This one is tricky. Let me put it nicely. We've all known that one IT pro who knew it all and went to great lengths to prove the great expanse of their knowledge. Yes, Sheldon Cooper can pull it off, but he's a fictional character surrounded by forgiving friends. In the world of business, you won't find many people that forgiving. So do not be a know-it-all. Even if you do know it all, don't show it all.
9: Don't make demands
The more you demand, the more the company will look down on you and deem you an annoyance. The last thing you want to do is come off as a prima donna. We all know what happens to those who make constant demands... they go b'bye. That doesn't mean you should never ask for anything. But it does mean two things: 1) Don't do it often and 2) When you ask, couch it as a request, not a demand.
10: Love your work
Love your job and you'll never work a day in your life. It's a wise adage and one you should take seriously. IT is not easy work. It's stressful and it can take a toll on the rank and file. If you don't love the job you have, leave it and find one you do. Why? If you don't love the job, it will show. And when the ax falls, it might fall on those who have made it obvious they don't love the work.
Of course, these suggestions are not guaranteed. When the bottom drops out, sometimes there's no security to be had. But if you do everything you can, you might increase your job security enough to save your skin when the next round of layoffs occurs.
What is your plan to keep your gig safe?
- Cybersecurity professionals: The healthcare industry needs you
- Are startups creating jobs? It's complicated
- 10 reasons you deserve a raise
- 10 lights at the end of the IT support tunnel
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.