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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.

"I am big on mentoring, and I spend a lot of time training others. People see me as approachable and come to me with questions, asking me for help," Mercer says. "The managers notice that people seem to naturally follow me and I assume makes them want to keep me here."

9. Make yourself available

During the downturn, some groups in IT may not be as busy as others. IT pros in the groups that seem slow should be offering themselves up for projects in other departments.

"If companies have five people that administer the network, but one of them also knows servers, managers might get rid of the highly specialized worker in favor of that person that could be considered an IT generalist, working in many areas," says Bryan Sullins, principal tech trainer at New Horizons in Hartford, Conn., and a Network World blogger. "IT pros that won't cross those boundaries are hurting themselves."

Working on projects outside of the normal routine is valued by managers -- and also helps IT workers add to their skills.

"One thing that helps is to be willing to take on new challenges, even if it is outside of your normal routine. I once had to project plan for a PBX upgrade, and I learned an immense amount about how they work," says Dwayne Whitmore, senior systems engineer in the technology services group for Carolinas HealthCare System in Charlotte, N.C. "The knowledge from that project helped me understand VoIP better."

Reaching out across the IT lines could ultimately save a job.

"IT pros should create as many relationships and alliances as possible in their organization. The more people they know, the more they see the work of different groups first hand, the more likely they can make a case for being cross-functional and avoid layoffs," says John Reed, district president with Robert Half Technology.

10. Smile, be happy

Never underestimate the power of a positive attitude.

Presenting a positive attitude, despite the challenges, will help managers who are also taxed beyond their resources -- understand which employees are happy to be on the job.

"The person who with a smile takes on new challenges that alleviate some of the pains of the management team will become invaluable,"'s Milgram says. "As people are laid off, it creates an atmosphere around you that is very difficult. Remaining flexible, available and positive during such times is paramount."


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