Posted by: kenwbudd | March 6, 2009

How to keep your job!

Stormy Seas ahead

Stormy Seas ahead Captain!

With the economy said to be all at sea, what can the smart IT professional do, to stay afloat?

1) The first step is the easiest one of all. Keep your core technology skills fresh and take advantage of every training opportunity, e.g. there are plenty of free online courses and certifications. “Free” is important, this is no time to ask your employer for money but also you may want to consider investing a little of your own cash on yourself, and your future.

Straighten up and fly right!

In fact, you will find that when you are employing your own cash to buy training, you will become more discerning about the content, as well as the real relevance and necessity of attending a particular skills training course. Now suddenly you see it from your boss’s position. Where is the payback? Do you have th ecourage to put your money where your mouth is? Are you willing to pay for the training and have the company reep the benefit. It would make you more secure and your boss would see you in a different and better light.

Something that is strangely inexpensive. You can always gain knowledge and get a head start on a new techie subject by ‘reading a book’ or three on the subject. I know, I know, its not very techie or ‘out there’ to be ‘reading’ and it will make some of your nerdy friends point at you and laugh, ‘Oh, look guys! We’ve got a reader!’ but tough times call for tough measures.

2) You could always leverage your technology expertise to help the company perform better. Wow! Is that possible you say? Yes! You might want to develop an application that helps the company’s sales professionals (the suits), unlikely but possible. It’s important not to be afraid to take the initiative. Develop your ideas or speak to the suits and see how their needs could be better met, especially if there is a techies slant to it.

Look seriously at mutually beneficial options, for both you and the company. Structure a rough ‘business’ plan showing how, by the use of new technologies (tools/ applications/ whatever), that you are willing to develop and learn the company can readily,

  • save /make money or
  • reduce overheads /wastage or
  • get into new markets / challenge their competitors, or
  • out manouvre them entirely by implementing more innovative approaches.

Some study in advance and a bit of prior knowledge here would be helpful in re-enforcing your pitch. Also brush up on your presentation techniques and I don’t mean the Powerpoint style tools. I mean the, well dressed, standing at the front of an auditorium and speaking clearly and assertively, presentation skills.

These skills are some of the most important ones that you will need for the future and its vital that you get help with them. Your public performance can be easily made more structured, effective and carry more impact if you seek the advice of a professional tutor or toast master. Unfortunately by the sheer nature of this skill, it cannot be done online. You will have to go into the real world to speak to people about it. They will be wearing suits and maybe by that time, so will you.

Remember, you are the one best placed to know what new tools and technologies are out there and how best to apply them to the benefit of your company. So, why don’t you tell them and put yourself forward as the co-ordinator and developer for the project. Cometh the hour, cometh the geek.

3) Be sure to stay up and alert. Be positive (B+) and become high profile and very visible. Throw off your cardigan and come out of the server room, turn your back on the Zen-like hum of the air-con, look your manager in one of his crazed bloodshot eyes and tell him how you are going to help him and lead him out of this mess. Then step back quickly, because he will become very emotional and may reach out and try to hug you. Not that this is a bad thing but it doesn’t help your street cred with the guys.

4) Ensure that you stay busy by volunteering for new initiatives and by not turning down high profile assignments. Qudos and assignment selection is a story for another day, but be careful of being handed a dying star, a runaway horse or a poisoned elf.

Keeping fully occupied is good advice at any time, good or not so good but it is easy to get complacent in the good times and then find yourself out favour and out of position when times are difficult. Ask yourself, ‘Am i doing enough to help me keep my job.’

Simple rhetorical phrases like “stay positive” are all very well but it can be tough to put into practice, especially in an oppresive or negative environment. Avoid the negative people in the office they will be the first ones targetted and then fired. Remember that negativity and cynicism are contagious. Therefore, turn off the news during the day. It is a drain on your spirit. Plug it or it will only drag you down and distract you from your chosen task.

If you do all that and you still face losing your job, what next? My cheese is almost gone! Where do I find more cheese?

Aaargh! Who took my Cheese?

Aaargh! Who took my Cheese?

Dust off your old resumé and make sure it is up-to-date, accurate, attractive, concise, well written and contains all of your updated contact information. Then, make sure it is optimized for keywords by describing your skills precisely. Post your résumé on all the job boards, such as Dice, LinkedIn and Monster, as well as the niche job boards, for jobs in financial services, media, etc. Check that the language used in your resumé is in synch with today’s recruiters and job market.

If your resumé is not ‘reader friendly’ it won’t get read!

YOU are de-selecting yourself from the contest!

Take advantage of recruiting firms. Remember, when you meet with a recruiting firm, treat everyone with copious respect, because these are the ‘gatekeepers’. The people who could help you land an interview and a job. Good recruiting firms and consultants will also work with you to optimize your résumé for the job boards and so also will good friends i.e. the suits not the geeks.

Finally, in this highly competitive dog-eat-cat job world, if you do manage to land an interview opportunity, let the prospective employer know you are available immediately. Don’t say that you will be on vacation or only do interviews on Mondays. Make sure you are easily available and show a strong interest in the job; otherwise, you will lose the interview opportunity.

Remember the new mindset that you developed and all those new exercises that you carried out, just to make sure you didn’t get fired, well these are the very ones that you can use to sell yourself to your potential employer, at the interview.

When the going gets tough, the tough will be the survivors. Build a plan and Make your own luck!

Develop yourselve into;

  • a stronger, leaner, and fitter condition to
  • maintain, strengthen and consolidate your current position,
  • study, re-train and supplement your skills,
  • search out new opportunities inside and outside your present environment
  • GROW!

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