How to Stay Off the Layoff List

If you want to keep your job, find ways to be invaluable.

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Karen Burns
If you have a job--and, statistically, it's likely you do--chances are you want to hold on to it. The obvious way is to be excellent at your work, to really know what you’re doing. But guess what? That’s not enough.

You also need to:

Be über-reliable. The trick to über-reliability is the ability to accurately predict how long it will take you to complete a task. That way when you say you’ll deliver on Tuesday, you’ll actually be capable of delivering on Tuesday.

Be outer-directed. Communicate in ways others can understand. Consider the needs of your coworkers and boss, and take the time and trouble to meet these needs. Oh, and don’t sweat the small stuff.

Be commonsensical. Very often, getting a task done on time--even if it means it’s done less than perfectly--is preferable to missing a deadline. Part of being a stellar worker is knowing when this is the case.

Be bottom-line-oriented. Even (especially!) if your role is not directly related to the company’s sales, strive to have an impact on “the numbers.” No matter your position, you can always suggest ways to save money, resources, or time.

All of the above is really just another way of saying, “Act like you own the place.” Not in the sense that you throw your weight around or bark out orders, but that you are always thinking of the larger picture, the common good.

Do this and you will be invaluable.

Karen Burns, Working Girl, is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. She blogs at