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Secure Your Job in an Insecure Market

Sure, the unemployment rate has improved -- but some companies are still announcing layoffs. The solution? Become utterly indispensable at work. Here are a few expert dos and don'ts to help you nail it.

1. DO log face-time. How will higher-ups see that you’re a company asset if they never actually see you? Do the top brass make more noise in the morning? Show up a little earlier than usual, even if it’s just to squeeze in a quick “hi.” Keep a corporate convo topic in your back pocket in case you get a face-to-face in the elevator.
DON’T log Facebook time. Yeah, it’s a networking site, but posting won’t convince your boss that you’ve got your eyes on the prize. If your boss is also a “friend,” she can see that you posted at 11:04, 1:15, and 3:35, and that you wrote “When will it be Friday?!” right after your staff meeting. Can’t resist logging on? Change your privacy settings so your boss can't see your status updates like your friends do.

2. DO become more vocal. Don’t give anyone a reason to eliminate you from the payroll. If you’re quiet and hardworking, make some noise by bubbling up constructive info about your team’s latest projects in your next meeting. Putting in a few extra hours doesn’t hurt either.
DON’T become a kiss-ass. Offering to pick up the big cheese’s dry-cleaning, spouse’s anniversary gift, and kids from kindergarten? Stop, drop, and roll that brown off your nose. Unless you’re a personal secretary, volunteering yourself for non-work-related tasks makes you look like a suck-up. Plus, if your boss doesn’t have time to do these things, he might wonder why you do.

3. DO go out of your comfort zone. Right now, employees who can quickly shift gears as their company’s needs change have a better shot at sticking around. Is your boss heading up a project that you aren’t currently staffed on, but know that you could somehow help with? Find a way to get involved.
DON’T go out for long lunches.
You and your coworkers love to catch up over lunch for an hour...or two. But when you’re out of the work loop for that long each day, you run the risk of not being around when a great project or opportunity pops up. Translation: It will go to a coworker instead. Dash in and out -- or eat at your desk more often. Think of it this way: If you get laid off, you won’t be able to afford lunches out at all!

4. DO ask for a progress report. If you don’t have a review coming up, let your boss know that you’d like to schedule a check-in at her convenience to discuss your performance and get pointers on how to improve. Your boss will be impressed with your initiative.
DON’T ask for anything you can do without. The squeaky wheel may have gotten the grease pre-recession, but now it’s a different story. Constantly asking for attention, kudos, or perks -- from raises to days off -- makes you look whiny, not worthy.

Nestpert Lois P. Frankel, PhD, author of Stop Sabotaging Your Career: 8 Proven Strategies to Succeed -- In Spite of Yourself

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