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how to make your job more secure

By Shari Barnes

Unemployment rates rise, stocks fall, and companies fold. If the rosy employment safety you felt two years ago is losing its glow, biting your fingernails won't change a thing. Try these practical methods to regain that sense of job security.

FOCUS ON STRENGTHS…This doesn't mean ignoring your weaknesses. It means taking your inborn talents and coupling them with your acquired skills. If you have a hard time assessing yourself, the MD/100 or MD/180 can help you see yourself as an employer sees you. You do need specific skills. Basic computer literacy, for example, is essential no matter what you want to do. But the days are gone when you could claim job security by mastering a few skills. Technology changes so dynamically that the skill you have this morning is obsolete next month. Generalists pluck the prized jobs. The ability to absorb new material, solve problems and adapt to contemporary methods is crucial.

BE HONEST…You're apprehensive and that's OK. Rent is due on the 15th, school loans accrue interest, and the dentist expects money for the filling. If you can't admit to some level of worry, you're not telling the truth. Talk your situation through with a friend, preferably someone who works for a different organization. Record your perceptions in a journal. Writing is cathartic. Remember that you aren't exclusively defined by your job. Make a list of the titles that identify you: Community Food Bank Volunteer, Conference Speaker, Museum Docent, Better-than-Average Tennis Player. Evidence that you're not one-dimensional helps your outlook and may translate well to your resume.

CONCENTRATE ON PROFESSIONALISM… This is not the time to complain about the company, your manager, or the person who got the promotion you wanted last year. Reserve negative comments and feelings for your counselor or your journal. Even if the company ship is showing sinking signs, keep bailing as long as you're an employee. A professional doesn't gnaw on the hand that signs the paychecks. Your positive attitude and contributions may not keep the organization afloat, but you'll feel better knowing you were loyal.

GET FEEDBACK…Take a look at your last performance evaluation. Are you lacking technical skills? Do you have sufficient hands-on experience? How does the power structure perceive your potential with the company? What about your customer and people talents? Have you kept pace with essential developments? If your company doesn't give written appraisals, ask your boss to tell you how you're doing.

OBTAIN ADDITIONAL TRAINING… One of the most exciting aspects of 21st century life is the exponential proliferation of knowledge…it's also one of the most frustrating things imaginable. There's no way you can keep current with everything you'd like to know. Select elements critical to your career and keep current in that field. Your potential for retention, promotion or a better job with another company increases with each degree, certification and diploma. Those pieces of paper are important because they verify your knowledge attainment. Will you ever stop asking, "How will this look on my resume?" Probably not.

MOVE ON…The boss says you seem unhappy with your job, plum assignments go to other people, you receive little or no pay raise, the company is in chapter eleven. Sometimes the warning signs are unmistakable. Allow time to evaluate your situation objectively, and don't let fear dictate an unnecessary career change. But if the proverbial handwriting is on the wall, update your resume. While employment search ranks right up there with root canals and tax audits, it may be time to begin a new job hunt if no one is knocking on your door with offers. Is it time to write a new chapter in your career history?

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Sharon (Shari) Eurich Barnes is Director of Employee Relations for Texas Christian University. Complementing her human resource career, Ms. Barnes writes for numerous publications, including the New York Times, Working Mother, Women as Managers and Management Review. She also conducts private and court-ordered mediations.

In addition to hosting Books in Review on cable television, Ms. Barnes speaks on employment issues for professional associations and conferences.

Ms. Barnes received her Bachelor's degree from California Baptist University and Master's degree from Texas Christian University. Among other affiliations, she is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management, American Society for Training and Development, American Association of University Women, Fort Worth Human Resource Association Board of Directors (past), College and University Personnel Association, Fort Worth Mayor's Committee for Disabled Persons, and Tarrant County Association of Mediators Board of Directors. Ms. Barnes has also been named to Who's Who Among American Women.

Comments and questions about this article: Shari Barnes.

The opinions expressed in articles by this author do not necessarily represent the opinions of MindData. These articles are provided as a means of informing you of current events and opinions that impact employers and the workplace.

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