How to hold onto your job in an uncertain economy

Job security is a big worry for South Africans in the face of the pandemic and its economic fallout. You can’t fix the economy, but you can take action to increase your chances of holding onto your job and pay cheque. Don’t wait! We’ve got five steps you can take right now to improve your job security.

  1. Get the basics right

    Know your job, and do it well
    You should have a job description, as well as targets or goals and timelines. Your first priority is to get this right and deliver work to the required standard, on time. Show that you are reliable and capable – exactly what employers are looking for. If you do not have clarity on what your job entails, it is never too late to have this conversation with your boss and align expectations.

    Be supportive of your business
    While you don’t need to be loudly cheering on the side-lines every second of every day, you do need to be a team player and support your business, your manager and your colleagues.

    • Share ideas and information, and offer to help with projects and tasks
    • Be positive about the company – don’t indulge in office gossip and in-fighting, or criticise it on social media
    • Make your boss’s job easier and better and they will be keen to keep you

    Be flexible
    In this difficult environment, companies are looking for different ways of doing things, which means your job may change as the company changes. Embrace the changes and see them as an opportunity to learn new skills.

  2. Work towards becoming indispensable by upskilling

    When you’ve got the basics right, think about how you can make yourself indispensable. Career coach Phiona Martin says you are indispensable if you have a unique skill that the company needs to achieve its goals, a skill the company can’t do without.

    If you don’t already have a unique skill your company needs, learn that skill. This must be a priority skill for your employer and help you fulfil a critical role in the business.

    You can learn a new skill by taking a course, doing your own research and reading, or by learning from colleagues and specialists in the business. Getting involved in projects outside your core area and department is a great way to learn.

    Phiona’s three tips for upskilling:

    • Develop transferable skills you can use in different departments and businesses. Because entire divisions and departments can be closed down, you need to develop skills that can either transfer easily to other roles in the business or develop new skills needed in other departments.
    • Find out what training opportunities are available from your company, including bursaries for courses and degrees, and take full advantage of these. Your HR department can help you with this one.
    • Do your research before you sign up for an online course, and where possible to do one that is accredited with a relevant industry or professional organisation. When you have done a course, tell your boss, and other leaders in the business how it helped you in your job. For example, “I completed an online course in digital marketing and used the skills to improve engagement on our social media platform.” And then add this to your CV as well!
  3. Build your personal brand

    It’s great being good at what you do, but if no one knows how good you are they won’t know how important you are to the company.

    Don’t keep your head down in your cubicle – let people know you do a great job

    Don’t be shy to talk about the value of your work to relevant stakeholders:

    • Let colleagues know what you are working on and share your successes
    • Offer to share your expertise and skills with others – in your team and in other teams and departments
    • Build personal relationships with the critical decision makers or stakeholders in your department and other departments in the business so that they know you, what you can do and how you work
  4. Nurture your network

    The next step is to make sure you don’t neglect your network. They can help when times are tough, recommend you for new positions and introduce you to important role players in your company and industry.

    “Keep in mind that networking is give and take,” Phiona says. You can’t expect your network to only look out for you – you also have to look out for them. “Get to know people and offer to help.”

    Tips to help you network in the virtual world:

    • Set up a virtual coffee meeting
    • Send an email or WhatsApp to check in on them and let them know what is happening in your life and career
    • Share a link to an article you know a colleague will be interested in
    • Set up recurring meetings or reminders in your calendar to keep in touch
    • Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date, join relevant groups and connect and interact within your industry.
  5. Keep your CV up to date and relevant

    When you’ve aced your job, upskilled and made yourself indispensable, told your colleagues how good you are and networked, update your CV. Anything can happen, and even for new roles within a company a CV is often required.

    Phiona’s top CV tip: “Make sure the relevant information for the new role stands out.” Even if you’re very proud of the social media campaigns you ran while a digital marketer, if you’re moving into a new role as a copywriter you need to make sure you highlight the skills a copywriter requires..

Embrace change

It’s a tough job market, so it’s good to know there are things you can do to improve your job security. You won’t have control over a situation like mass retrenchments, but work on these five areas and you will boost your competitiveness, acquire new skills and become more employable! #ChangeYourLife

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