I was having Lunch with a friend of mine a few days ago, and we got talking about surviving layoffs.
With the current economic nightmare that is upon us we need to switch gears a little bit. The traditional technique that IT folks use if be valuable, but not so valuable that you can’t be promoted. In the current economy if you can be promoted you can also be laid off.
At come companies it simply may not be possible to avoid layoff rounds. If the CEO (or other C level schmuck) says that your division isn’t needed any more HR will simply layoff everyone. Sadly there isn’t much you can do about this. However if the departments are told to start cutting 10% of the workforce you can do a few things which can help you avoid the ax.
Make yourself invaluable
Now isn’t the time to worry about if you aren’t going to be able to get moved up into that next position. Most companies aren’t going to be promoting anyone any time soon. Now is the time to make yourself invaluable to the department and the company so that they feel like they can’t keep the company running without you. In larger companies this can be harder to do, as the more people that the company has, the more redundancy there is.
Get to know the people above you
Get to know as many people in the food chain above you as possible. If you don’t know your director or VP they will have no problem laying you off. Why, because they don’t know you. If they don’t know you there’s no emotional attachment which would make them think twice about laying you off. Get to know them, say high to them, and make sure that they know you, and what you do for them, and how you make their job easier. If they know that you make their job easier they’ll be less likely to lay you off, because their job will then be harder.
There is a downside to this, in that if you piss them off in some way, your screwed so use caution.
Schedule a mid year review
This one is going to sound a little funky, but bear with me.
Document what you’ve been doing for the company (just the good stuff) to save them money, and more importantly make them money. Ask for boss (and if possible your bosses boss) if they have time to review some items with you. This will give you a chance to remind them just how much you do for the company. Anything you can bring with specific dollar figures on it will be great. Make sure that you aren’t asking for a raise just that you want some constructive feedback so that you can help the company make it though these touch economic times.
When you setup the meeting let your bosses know that you aren’t asking them to bring anything formal to the meeting, since you are going to bring everything with you. This is a time to get some extra face time with the bosses and give them a firm reminder that you are kicking ass and taking no prisoners.
Work overtime without compaint
If you get asked to work late for a project or a release, or to work on an issue (espeically by your boss, or someone higher up the chain) reminding them that you work 9-5 and that’s it probably isn’t the best technique. If you aren’t willing to work overtime I’m sure someone there is willing to, and when it comes time to cut someone they squeeky wheel isn’t getting greased, its getting a pink slip.
Hopefully you’ll never have to use these tips for anything, but if you do its good to have more ammo in the bag.
It’s also a great time for career growth by osmosis: as other people get laid off, go directly to your boss and ask for the coolest duties for yourself first. Don’t wait for everyone’s duties to be assigned out, because you might not get the work you want. If the data warehouse admin, the mail guy and the janitor all got laid off this week, go to your boss and volunteer for some of the data warehouse duties. It beats the other work, and it’ll be more rewarding when the economy picks back up.