Keeping Your Job

Negotiating is not always about getting something you want. Often it is about keeping something you have.

Keeping your job in a down-turned economy when layoffs are rampant becomes very personal.

Rather than waiting for others to decide your fate there are things you can do to shape the outcome and improve your chances of not getting a pink slip.

Don't accept the status quo. Seek ways to improve your skills and therefore your value to the company. Discuss additional training opportunities or mentoring opportunities you might take advantage of on your own time. Offer to take on these opportunities in your spare time rather than seeking compensation for offsite courses. Seek out coursework or seminars that will enhance your skills and company value and offer to take vacation and pay for them yourself as a way to informing your boss and others that you are committed to staying on top of things in your industry.

Don't hide or avoid the limelight. Many will seek not to be noticed hoping that will save them. But that is exactly the wrong thing to do. What you need now are champions or sponsors who will speak up for you when considering who should be kept. Volunteer, do extra work, find ways to save money and offer them up the chain. Cultivate favor with those you work with, even in other departments, so when asked they will a) know who you are and b) indicate how helpful or productive you are. When you are not in control of a situation you need others to want to help you.

Be Innovative. Now is the time to come up with better ways to do things. Get outside the box mentally and look around, observe, plan and promote ways to be more efficient. This is the time to be a good corporate person and not a grouse.

Plan for the Worse. The best defense is a good offense. If your company is downsizing or you otherwise feel your position is at risk do not wait. Get your resume updated. Discreetly start a job search and see what is out there. Check with your network to see if there are any opportunities. Talk with those in your life, like your spouse, to see what options you have. Together plan for tougher times and how you can economize. Talk about a total change in direction; maybe even relocating to a more affordable area or changing careers totally. What you are doing is developing contingency plans. Working together to avoid surprises and be prepared to handle whatever comes your way.

Should the Worse Happen. Do not panic. Find out the reason and be prepared to negotiate. If you have tested the waters and found little opportunity to find another job at a comparable salary you may want to try to justify the company keeping you. By offering to lower your salary temporarily or work part time you can argue that your retention may make sense by keeping a loyal employee, by saving money and by saving the future cost of hiring and training a replacement once your company's future brightens. The key is to stay calm and know your options, and being prepared to fight for the best solution for you.

Jobs, like it or not, are privileges not rights. It is up to you to do what you can to protect your future. Consider that staying the course may be your best or worse option. If the company is really in trouble, the sooner you move to Plan B the better. If not it offers security in a tumultuous time. The time you take to consider all aspects of your situation, that of the company, and your family's needs the better prepared you will be make prudent decisions about your future and meet challenges as they come your way.