Getting or keeping a job in tough economic times |

Getting or keeping a job in tough economic times

Judy Free and Traci Maddox
Authors of "The Essential Employee"

These economic times are prompting many employers to reduce their workforce. Maybe you have been affected by this situation: You or a family member may have lost a job; you may be trying to enter this bleak work environment; or you may be worried about future downsizing and its impact on you and your family.

Well, there is a silver lining in the black clouds that cover our nation’s economy today. The good news is that you have control over your behaviors as an employee. There are key behaviors that make you more “hire-able” and more “keep-able” to employers. We are talking about more than just being qualified to do a specific job ” we are talking about the things that make you a role model in the workplace.

These five key behaviors emerged from research data conducted with organizations all over the United States. They are detailed in our book, “The Essential Employee ” The Adventures of Carmen Senz.” The story is about a young woman’s first six months at work and the lessons she learns. She is already good at some things (as we all are) and there are times when she learns her lessons in the school of hard knocks (as most of us do sooner or later). Regardless, the story highlights the five key behaviors that make an employee essential in the workplace.

So, what behaviors does it take to be a star performer at work? A role model for the rest of the employees? An employee your boss wants to keep around because you are essential? Here’s what we learned from our research:

Essential employees engage in five key behaviors:

Results ” The motivation to get the job done plus. Yes, qualifications feed into results, but it means so much more in this context. When companies think of results, they think about the following things:

– You can be counted on to do what is expected with excellent results.

– You accept increasing responsibility and look for opportunities to improve yourself and your skills.

– You wear many hats at work-and are willing to learn as jobs evolve.

– You also prioritize and juggle many tasks based on their importance.

– Finally, you always give your BEST effort.

Enthusiasm ” For your company and its mission. You really show your passion for what you do. You are committed to making your organization the best it can be and that commitment shines through in everything you do. You also know how what you do every day contributes to your company’s success.

Attitude ” A positive attitude. You wear a smile that says “I like working here and have pride in what I do.” Your attitude is contagious, shows confidence, and brings energy to the people around you. Even when you’re having a bad day, you are positive about your work and the organization’s goals.

Cooperation ” The ability to work well with others. You are polite, compassionate, and a team player. You pitch in when needed and are respectful. You appreciate diversity and always behave as part of the team. Your competitive spirit serves to support ” not undermine ” the team.

Honor ” The ability to always act and speak with unquestionable integrity. You trust others and you are trusted. Others know you and what is important to you. You are authentic in your behavior toward others, and always tell the truth.

Five straightforward traits: R-E-A-C-H. That’s what it takes to REACH your peak as the essential employee. At times, these behaviors may seem easier to talk about than to put into action ” especially when you are in competition to get a job or keep one. But highlighting your capabilities in these areas will make you more essential.

The really great thing is that all of these behaviors are within your control. It’s doesn’t take years of experience or extensive study to become essential (although if you have been in the workplace for awhile, it may take some adjustment or working to change people’s opinions of you). Just observe yourself in the workplace and see how your actions match up to the criteria above. Ask for feedback. And if you’re trying to get a job, identify how you have exhibited these behaviors in the past and how you might show them in your new workplace.

We hope we have helped by providing this information. Will it ensure you don’t get laid off? No ” but it can help you be more competitive in a tough job market. You can help yourself by committing to actions that make you more and more essential in your career.

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