Here are six suggestions that may keep you out of the firing zone:
1. Be on time. Few things will infuriate your boss like constant tardiness. Unless you change your residence or office daily, there is no acceptable reason for always being late to work. Plan ahead: if you've been on your job more than a week, then you should be familiar enough with traffic patterns to know your commute's length.
Your boss has heard every excuse in the book, and even if your supervisor feigns understanding, it's only to get you to your desk and back to work as quickly as possible. The guy who is always breaking the copier stands a better chance than you when it's time to decide who to let go.
2. Learn another job. It's an unfortunate fact that many corporations in the throes of restructuring won't think twice about piling additional work on the employees who survive the layoff rounds. So knowing how to fill more than one position in your office can be a surefire way of getting a survivors' edge.
3. Be the go-to guru. In practically every office, there is that one person everyone turns to when something goes wrong. It's nice to know there is at least one person who is particularly adept at solving computer issues at the next desk, especially if getting someone from your IT department to show up is difficult. Or how about developing extraordinary customer-service skills? You'll be the most indispensable person around once your co-workers know that you can calm an out-of-control client.
These are just two examples, but look around and see what may be missing that could make life easier on those you work with, and then make sure they know you're the one person who can fill that gap.
4. Always steer clear of office politics. Nothing will put a bigger target on your back than being perceived as a troublemaker. It may seem innocent at first. Maybe you were just trying to express your opinion or show support for another employee. The next thing you know, you find yourself embroiled in a position that can't be defended, and suddenly you're the bad guy. You don't have to be a wallflower or anti-social; it's just a good idea to keep work conversations focused on work-related issues if you want to stay out of trouble.
5. Volunteer for the dirty work. Don't be afraid to take on the assignments others shun. As hard as it may be at the time, jumping in on these projects guarantees that you gain positive recognition. It may be hard to believe, but most of your co-workers want to just get through the week with minimal stress. Don't be one of them. I promise; you'll be so glad you volunteered when your supervisor starts thinning the herd.
6. Always produce quality results. When work needs to wrap up quickly at the end of a hectic work day, quality often suffers. Be the one who invests that extra 30 minutes, an hour or more on an outstanding deliverable to ensure quality, versus speed, is the priority. Your boss, and your customers, will take note of your tenacity and unflappable attention to world-class results.
So, there you have it. Six ways you could drastically improve your staying power in today's workforce jungle. And if you doubt any of these methods, just ask your boss. She just may tell you that adhering to these ideas is how she got her job.
Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter is a Glassdoor career and workplace expert, chief career writer and partner with CareerTrend, and is one of only 28 Master Resume Writers (MRW) globally. Jacqui and her husband, "Sailor Rob," host a lively careers-focused blog at http://careertrend.net/blog. Jacqui is a power Twitter user (@ValueIntoWords), listed on several “Best People to Follow” lists for job seekers.