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Five Tips For Making Yourself Invaluable At Work

by Chris Poindexter

In these days of 5% unemployment the dark days of 2008 and 2009 are largely a distant memory. For many young people in the workforce today, those days passed blissfully during soccer practice and band. But if history is any guide, these days of employers offering higher salaries and perks like repaying student loans are going to be short lived.

There are several strategies that you should be employing in this economic climate. The one thing you should not be doing is developing a sense of complacency or entitlement. When the economy crashed in 2008, it was brutal out there in the job market. Companies shed hundreds of thousands of jobs every month. Every day that someone who still had a job in that cutthroat environment was a day closer to a recovery in the jobs market. The people who survived the cut were the ones employers decided were too valuable to let go. That value did not happen by accident. Use the time you have now to make yourself invaluable to an employer and here’s how you do it.

Be Positive

Everyone likes working with a positive person. When tough times strike the difficult types and complainers end up on the chopping block. When it comes to your job, leave your problems and your personal life at the door. Take an interest in the welfare of the people around you and be that one bright spot in everyone’s day.

Become An Expert

I can tell you the last person to be laid off in any modern office will be the employee who knows Microsoft Excel inside out and backwards. He or she will also be the first person hired when employment starts to pick back up. That positive person who always has a line of people at his or her desk who knows how to do this and that in Excel will be the last one out the door. I was that person in my office and it was ridiculously easy to attain that position. My secret was Google. I knew how to look up those tricky tasks in Excel. It’s really that easy.

Invest In Personal Relationships

In the job market it’s who you know and being friends with the boss and the one above them is the best insurance you can have against layoffs and cutbacks. If you do end up getting the ax, those relationships can be key to finding another job. Making friends these days is hard work and it takes time. Relations are an investment and the people who make that investment will have those relationships to fall back upon when the dark economic clouds return.

Develop a Sideline Business

The one guaranteed way to be layoff proof is to own the company. Running a sideline business, like a booth at the Farmer’s Market or some other weekend gig, can be a lifeline during tough economic times. Even if you don’t have time to run your own business, familiarize yourself with the opportunities in the gig economy. Sites like TaskRabbit and Guru can help you earn enough money to stay afloat and it also covers any gaps in your employment.

Become “The Fixer”

Every office has that one person who is the problem solver, the one you can always trust to get things done. The trick in being the fixer is to use it as a platform for self-promotion rather than as a way for less ambitious people to get their work done on time. It’s happened time and time again that the people who get things done get laid off because others take credit for their work. The term “working smarter” frequently is a euphemism for figuring out creative ways to dump your work on someone else. So, being the fixer also means combining that with a bit of showmanship and insistence that everyone knows you’re the one getting the job done. Okay, everyone knows you’re being a self-promoter, but it works. If you don’t step up and insist on credit, someone else will. You can’t fight human nature.

Some of these suggestions may be out of your comfort zone but now you have time to practice digging into your current employer and making yourself invaluable.

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