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How to become the employee no one can afford to lose

Selena Dehne, JIST Publishing

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At one time, workers were often rewarded for staying with their employer for several years. Many felt secure in their jobs and didn't worry about factors beyond their control dictating their employment status.

In today's work world, that sense of job security is a luxury few people possess.

According to Laurence Shatkin, Ph.D., author of "2011 Career Plan," though today's workers can't expect the kind of widespread job security past generations enjoyed during most of the preceding century, there are steps workers can take to protect themselves. "The best way to hang on to your job is to be irreplaceable. You need to be so vital to the business that it can't go on without you," Shatkin says.

To help you implement this job-saving strategy, Shatkin offers the following advice:

  • Focus on the core mission of the business. Many businesses diversify and serve several functions, but usually there's a central mission that makes money and determines whether the business will succeed or fail. Identify that central function and play a role in it. Identify the skills the business needs for future development of this function and acquire them.

  • Be exceptionally productive. This doesn't necessarily mean working longer hours. It's more important to find a task or role you can handle that goes beyond your job description. Here again, skills are important because they are the key to productivity.

  • Be visible. In many businesses, the person whose office is next to the boss's tends to get the best performance appraisals. If you don't have that office, find ways to make your accomplishments known; don't wait for performance-appraisal season. For example, start an in-house Web page, newsletter or bulletin board showcasing the project you're working on and soliciting suggestions from people outside the project. This will encourage them to buy into the project and make your efforts look not purely self-promotional. If you have a work-at-home arrangement, find reasons to show up at the office regularly or make lunch dates.

  • Acquire a mentor. Find someone who really knows the business, be helpful, and ask a lot of very specific questions, including questions about how to improve your work. Give public credit to the mentor for the advice you get.

  • Be pleasant. Back-stabbing may seem like a way to get ahead, but it can hurt you in the long run. Abrasiveness may make you stand out, but for the wrong reasons. If you really can't get along with some people in your work group, try to be transferred to one where you'll fit in better.

Selena Dehne is a career writer for JIST Publishing who shares the latest occupational, career and job search information available with job seekers and career changers. She is also the author of JIST's Job Search and Career Blog ( Follow her on Twitter at

Last Updated: 28/01/2011 - 11:16 AM

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