Smart ways to recession-proof your job

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Lately I’m getting a lot of press releases from career coaches, staffing companies and head hunters advising me to tell you that they know how to “recession-proof your job.” If I were being all analytical and boring, I’d say it’s one indicator of voter jitters about the direction of the economy.

But then I got to thinking. My own company had painful layoffs two years in a row. It skipped a big round this year, but you gotta figure that if the economy does hit the skids, the first thing marketers cut is their advertising, which means TIME Magazine loses pages, which means me and my colleagues lose our jobs.

I have never operated heavy machinery and I believe I never should for the good and safety of all. So I decided to read the latest note. It’s from John Challenger of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an outsourcing firm in Chicago. I like John; we’ve visited a couple of times, and he’s always good for a lively quote about the job market. So here’s his advice on how to recession-proof your job:

• Solidify the relationship with your boss. If the relationship with your supervisor is need of repair, now is the time to do it. Take steps to ensure that whatever characteristics or factors inspired your boss to hire you are still recognized. Schedule a lunch. Meet with him or her regularly to make sure you are on the same page. If your relationship has suffered, figure out what changed. If you cannot figure it out on your own, ask your boss directly in a non-confrontational, “I-only-want-to-please-you” way. Be prepared for the fact that you will be the one who must change, even if it’s your boss that caused the relationship to suffer.

• Be an expert and a generalist at the same time. Knowing more than anyone else on a specific issue or topic will help make you the “go-to” person for anyone in the company who has a question on that subject. However, you also want to be well-versed in many areas of your company so that managers see you as being able to contribute in a variety of ways.

• Seek assignments on core projects. Find a way to be part of long-term projects that are core to the company and more likely to survive a downturn. Job security will be strongest for those who demonstrate expertise, particularly on projects where there are few experts. The company will consider you essential to an area of the business that is mission-critical. In other words, the company cannot afford to lose you.

• Meet your boss’s bosses and peers. Go out of your way to meet those at or above your supervisor’s level in the company. Attend all company events and introduce yourself to upper-level managers and executives. Let them know what projects you are working on and share your contributions. If layoffs occur and your boss is among the victims, there is no one to carry your torch unless you have built relationships with surviving managers and executives.

• Carry the company flag. If job cuts become necessary, employers are more likely to keep workers who are “true believers” in the company’s mission. Sporting a company-logo tattoo is not enough. You must demonstrate that you share all of the company’s concerns and goals. In addition to attending all corporate morale and team-building functions, you should be part of the committees that plan them. Be an advocate internally and externally. The company will recognize and reward those who are true “company men and women.”

Solid advice, I guess. Go ahead and follow it if you’re the advice-following type. Here for the rest of you are my alternative tips on how to recession-proof your job:

• Gather dirt on the boss.
• Make known to boss you have gathered said dirt.
• Make him/her squirm as you blithely hint at spilling said dirt.
• Keep job.

So much easier.