Dodging Downsizing
Dodging Downsizing

When Manuel learned that the company he worked for was laying off hazardous-waste technicians and outsourcing this kind of work to Company Y, he updated his resume and applied for work at company Y. He started his new position with Company Y the same day his layoff from Company X took effect.

People like Manuel will prevail in the current job market. Experts suggest that there will continue to be layoffs. Whereas previously, most layoffs occurred in manufacturing industries, they now happen in resilient industries like telecommunications, retail, aerospace, banking and computers.

Do you have what it takes to adapt to today's changing work environment?

1. Positive attitudes?
2. Flexibility?
3. Resilience?
4. Autonomy?
5. Will to risk?
6. Commitment to learning?
7. Sense of purpose?
8. Ability to learn from experience?
9. Control over your career?
10. Creativity?
11. Curiosity?
12. Enthusiasm for your work?
13. Communication skills?
14. Reliability?
15. Problem-solving ability?
16. Environmental awareness?
17. More than one specialization field?
18. Proficiency in a foreign language?
19. Confidence?
20. Interpersonal skills?
21. Leading edge computer or technical skills?

Scoring: Give yourself 1 for each "yes": 14 or higher suggests you have an employment edge. If not, don't fret. You can develop these qualities. Start with attributes that are attitude-based.

Minimizing Downsizing

- Manage your own career. Don’t wait for the lay off notice. Know what’s happening in your company. You can often see the signs coming. If management isn't supporting your work, update your resume and approach other corporations.

- See yourself as someone who has choices, takes action, and operates from a position of inner strength. Shift your vocabulary from a victim to someone with power and strength. For example, “It’s a challenge” instead of “It’s a problem.

- Know yourself and your priorities. Know your passion, your values and the skills you can offer. What do you really want? Define “success” in your terms, rather than what others think. You'll derive greater meaning and satisfaction from work. You'll also be more willing to risk.

Develop the habit of lifelong learning. Get the necessary education. Maintain skill set capabilities that are relative to the market. Do you have the skills needed to master your current job? If not, join the thousands who return to school to enhance their skills.

- Strengthen crossover skills. Some companies look for professionals with cross over skills like business and technology degrees which show a well-rounded, adaptable worker. Engineers or computer scientists with business or law degrees often have an employment edge. If you want international work, a foreign language may help.

- Set goals and focus. State your goal and deadline in specific terms; explain why you want to achieve it; identify obstacles that may hinder you, and specify ways you can overcome them; make a list of all individuals, organizations, personal strengths and tools you have to assist you; develop a plan that will lead you to your goal; set a schedule; and visualize yourself achieving your goal.

- Be flexible, resilient. While it's best to plan ahead, be flexible enough to modify your goals. Take calculated risks as you gain new strengths or as changes in circumstances occur. Balance loyalty and commitment with openness to new opportunities. Because a new management team can make many changes, keep your options to move to a new organization open. Find ways to get along with your boss and maintain good relationships with colleagues. They may be able to help if downsizing occurs.

- Lead a balanced life. Get involved in a variety of activities (social and relationships, hobbies, spiritual pursuits, community projects, etc.). This will not only make your life more complete, you'll also feel less devastated if you lose your job. You will be able to maintain confidence, creativity and courage to risk.

- Develop the will to risk. Look on something new or unknown as an opportunity to challenge yourself and to grow. Make small changes first. Research and plan. Consider failure as a temporary setback, the beginning of growth. What can you do differently? Make necessary modifications and move forward.

Additional tips for dodging downsizing are described in Questers Dare to Change Your Job and Life: