Don’t Get Fired: 5 Ways to Stand Out

You show up on time. You get your work done well and you always complete it on time. You don’t talk back to your boss. You don’t steal office supplies or you don’t belong to any paramilitary organizations with questionable politics. Why would you ever get fired?

Being good at your job may seem sufficient to keep that position long term. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

You don’t have to do something wrong to get fired. Companies shuffle their workforces all the time. Management changes, layoffs, mergers – any decision that takes place in a far-off executive board room could eventually trickle down to you.

However, there are steps you can take to minimize your chances of ending up on the wrong side of a corporate retooling. Here are five tips to stand out at work and prevent that worst-case scenario:

Don’t Be Average

You are good at your job. But are you great? Are you indispensable to the company, or are you a replaceable cog in the system, an anonymous, interchangeable part?

Of course, as an individual, you are unique. But we’re talking about your contribution here. If you don’t give much more than almost any random person would in your position, it leaves you vulnerable to things like outsourcing or cost-cutting.

Find ways to become important to the organization, not just for what you do but for who you are. It may involve additional work, but it will help you survive any restructuring that might come along.

Keep Your Skills Up To Date

Technology evolves quickly and industry standards change with it. You need to keep up.

If you find yourself in meetings not quite understanding the techno-speak people start tossing around, you may have fallen behind. Do what you can to stay current with the latest technological and intellectual trends in your industry. That way, you can grow with your company, whatever the future holds.

Keep Statistics on Your Side

Companies use stats to make decisions. Make sure if the time comes for hard decisions, those stats are singing your praises.

Make sure you understand the metrics the company uses to judge an employee’s worth. You may think that putting in 50 hours a week is enough. But if the bosses care more about efficiency than work ethic, those extra hours may not do you as much good as you thought.

In short, know the game being played. If you think they score basketball by the number of dribbles, you’ll probably end up losing.

Make Alliances

Ultimately, decisions to hire and fire are made by people. Statistics and algorithms inform those choices, but the decisions themselves come down to individuals.

Know who will make the decisions if it comes down to layoffs. Make sure those people know who you are and have a suitably high opinion of your worth. Build a reputation around the office. Look for ways to help people out, both professionally and personally. In other words, network…but network in order to keep your job, rather than find a new one.

Look to the Future

Don’t just wait around at your current job hoping not to get laid off. Take an active role in your career development. You may feel comfortable in your job now, but management decisions can blindside you.

Keep your resume up to date. Periodically check out positions in your field. Be ready to move on if a better opportunity arises. Your employer certainly won’t hesitate to move on from you if they think it helps their bottom line.

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