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How to make yourself layoff-proof

Denise Dubie | Sept. 8, 2009
Recent survey data from Forrester Research shows more than 60 per cent of IT managers expect to cut staff this year.

"Tech workers can go above and beyond by bringing product delivery and sales closer together, and really lift morale because companies need all workers coming together to bring in business," says Michael Kirven, principal and co-founder of IT resourcing firm Bluewolf.

3. Feed your brain

Resources may be scarce, but experts recommend IT pros find low-cost training or other self-study options to expand their technical knowledge in ways that would benefit the company and ultimately themselves.

"Technology workers need to be professional managers of their careers and in bettering themselves, their employers will also reap rewards," says Yoh's Lawrence.

Training, self-funded or at the expense of the employer, will show bosses that a worker not only wants to be on staff, but is still interested in advancing his career with that particular company.

"The key to keeping your job is demonstrating your return on investment. You cost your company a certain amount of money, but if you can show you are gaining value at no cost to them and that your knowledge will positively impact the bottom line in either cost savings or revenue growth, then you will be considered an asset," says Rich Milgram, CEO of, an online job board.

4. Become a business technology expert

It's not just something people say; IT staffers need to become business-savvy to advance their careers and essentially keep their jobs.

"It's been said often, but IT really needs to be a business enabler and not a problem fixer," says Chris Silva, senior analyst at Forrester Research. "High-tech workers who have had 'business-sensitivity' training, meaning they don't talk in technical terms to the business managers, will be kept longer than IT pros who can't translate the technology directly to business issues."

Coupling technology know-how with insight into what makes a business succeed can help staffers maintain a long career.

"We eliminated 100 positions in technology last year, but we are still aggressively hiring business analysts," says Perry Rotella, president of Society for Information Management (SIM) New York and CIO and senior vice president at Moody's. "Training our technical people and having them understand the business has been a long-term strategy for us."

5. Think cheap

Headcount reductions are often an effort to cut costs, but IT pros who prove to managers they can find inexpensive technology and reduce costs in-house could save their jobs.

"Think like the owner. Don't waste resources or buy things that really aren't critical," Nobscot's Carvin says. "Employees that are efficient are chosen to stay over those that act irresponsibly with budgets."

IT pros should not only check price tags, but also offer cost-effective alternatives to the status quo. Citigroup's Mercer introduced automation tasks that enabled his company to save time and money, while also avoiding downtime caused by human error.


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