How Not to Get Laid Off

Whether you call it laid-off, downsized, or losing a perfectly good position you love, being told you no longer have a job is not fun.

While not totally preventable. it is possible to do things, or not do them, to lessen your chances of making the expendable list.

Here are some of my suggestions:

  1. Have customers. Employees with a book of clients are generally the last to go whether in sales, the law, or wealth management. Customers are not happy to see relationships end and companies are not willing to lose clients. Work on building your book of buyers.
  2. Do your boss’ job. Let them lay him/her off. If it is known that you can do the work as well, if not better and cheaper, you could avoid the ax.
  3. Focus on problem solving rather than problem identification. There is generally a long line of people who can tell you what is wrong. Be on the shorter line with the people who offer a solution.
  4. Take credit for what you do before others stake their claim. Dollarize and numerate what you do and prove your worth. Get your name on everything. If that is not possible, make sure your style is evident, so it’s clear to all who is the author.
  5. Volunteer to be on high profile teams and projects. Do it before you’re asked. Choose initiatives that are short term and originate from the top.
  6. Openly manage people. Most executives would prefer to tackle things (money, research, compliance) than the human equity. Good people skills have high value, especially during challenging times.
  7. Be visible. In earlier than the power set, out later. Be careful how much and how often you take time off. They might not miss you, which is the kiss of death. Always be prompt with e-mail and phone replies, and on time with projects.
  8. No whining, no complaining. It’s hard enough without naysayers. Sure, you can disagree or point out opportunities but just being negative is useless and dangerous.
  9. Look great and stay healthy. Look your best at all times but never dress like your job hunting.
  10. Always look busy, even if you’re not. For most of us this is not an issue since we have more than enough to do; however, if you find yourself waiting for others so you can progress, clear out your e-mails, works on your career goals—anything that looks like work (solitaire, eBay and YouTube don’t qualify).
  11. Learn something of immediate value. Do this on your time and maybe your expense. Get that credential, learn the basics of an unfamiliar language, or increase your tech skills, anything that differentiates you from the competition, aka the person sitting next to you.
  12. Explore making an internal move. Facilitate a transition to the more business side of the organization if you are not in a revenue producing area. It is easier to prove your value and makes you more marketable if you can be seen as someone who understands both aspects of the organization.

Is this a complete list? Far from it. Does every one of them apply to your situation? I doubt it. What I hope is that it will get you thinking and making the necessary adjustments, so you get to keep the job, realize a promotion, and get the compensation you deserve.

No matter where you stand in your present position or within you career, it is essential to have a career strategy, a success strategy, a transfer strategy, and of course an exit strategy. I have coached people in all of these situations. Often people find themselves planning one and suddenly requiring another. The beauty of coaching is it looks at all aspects all the time. And why don’t you have a coach?

Jane Cranston is an executive coach, career coach and “The Job Search Expert” based in New York City. She shares with success driven executives and professionals techniques, skills and goal setting strategies that advance their careers, increase people management skills and assists them in career change or job search. Receive Jane’s free "Competitive Edge Report" and the free audio download “Creating a Career Strategy” by visiting

About the Author

Jane Cranston - Executive Coach NY (New York)Executive and career coach, “The Job Search Expert,” Jane Cranston understands the challenges and opportunities in the workplace. She integrates years of experience as an accomplished senior executive with global brand name companies, with the lessons learned from opening three successful businesses, and then applies her education and coach training. This sophisticated mix affords her clients her unique perspective, business sensibility, and entrepreneurial spirit.

Jane is the founder and Managing Director of ExecutiveCoachNY, an executive and career coaching business based in New York City with clients nationwide. She coaches success-driven executives and managers to develop a career strategy that accelerates advancement, increases compensation, enhances people-management skills as well as gets the competitive edge in all business activities.

Coaching with Jane is dynamic, structured, forward-focused as well as fun and inspirational. Working with clients in fields such as finance, technology, media and entertainment, real estate, and the law, she assists them in recognizing and achieving their full potential at work and in their personal lives.

Clients claim coaching with Jane has “changed my career focus,” “helped me better understand how to motivate my staff,” “given me ideas that have increased my income by $100,000s,” and “made me realize what is my part and what isn’t,” and claim coaching is “the best thing you could do for yourself.”

Jane’s soon to be published “Great Job Tough Times” is a step-by-step job search system designed to assist managers and executives looking for employment, or contemplating leaving their current positions, with their resume writing, interviewing skills, networking techniques, and negotiating need to get the right job fast.

Jane Cranston is frequently seen on CNN’s “Your Money” and quoted in nationally syndicated newspapers, magazines, as well as Internet article sites and virtual programs. She authors the free, twice monthly, “Competitive Edge Report.” Learn more on her website


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