By Jeremiah Buabeng
Jobs are hard to come by. The Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) report that only 10% of graduates find jobs in their first year of completing school. The same research also revealed that it may take up to 10 years for a large number of graduates to secure employment. These are scary statistics. In view of this shortage of jobs, it’s important that you protect your job when you get one. As hard as getting a job is, keeping it is even harder, especially when you work for a private-sector organization that is obsessed with getting results and achieving goals. You can easily lose your job for refusing to pull your weight. How does one avoid this? How can one protect his/her job and ensure that they are on their way to a progressive career? What do you do when you finally get that dream job?
Here are 7 tips:
1. Value the Opportunity
When you finally get that dream job, value the opportunity. People chase jobs when they are unemployed but take it for granted when they get a job. They behave like they are doing their bosses a favour. Some people say anything at an interview to get a job but make excuses after getting a foot in the door. That shouldn’t be you. Value the opportunity you have to work. There are thousands of people like you who still don’t have a job. Read the aforementioned ISSER statistics to motivate you. The fact that you have a job is rare. Value it.
2. Work for the Salary You Want Not the Salary You Have
Many employees feel they are underpaid. Interestingly, many employers feel their staff underperform. People refuse to give their best because they feel they aren’t paid well enough. But you don’t get higher pay by grumbling. You get it by delivering superior value, so work for the salary you want not the salary you have. Give your best. Stretch your potential. Be excellent. Force your boss’s hand to increase your salary through the value you deliver and not your protestations. When you become an outstanding performer, even if your current employer doesn’t reward you, your results will attract a better employer.
3. Have an Ownership Mentality
Whether you realize it or not, you are an owner in the organization you work for, because that’s where your income comes from. You are no different from the actual owner, who like you, also makes an income from the business. Furthermore, many businesses do not turn a profit for years. Much of the income they make goes to pay their employees and run the business. Business owners are very often the last to get paid. Therefore, you co-own the business. Your success is dependent on the success of the business. Own it. Have an ownership mentality. Be concerned about its success. Promote the company you work for. Recommend it to others. Say good things about it. Protect the business. Your survival depends on it.
4. Be Politically Tactical and Shrewd
No matter how brilliant and professionally successful you are, it is other people’s brilliance that built the organization before you joined it. Be tactical. Be shrewd. Don’t carry yourself as if you are the most brilliant person who is coming to turn the whole organization around. Be politically smart. Politics is not necessarily a bad thing. It exists everywhere. You have to learn how to play the game. Poor politics can cause you to lose a job you worked hard to get.
Be careful how you speak to your colleagues and your bosses. Even when you disagree, express that carefully, thoughtfully, and subtly. Be mindful to avoid statements or tones that suggest that you are wiser or smarter than your colleagues and bosses. Your colleagues can undermine you for that and your boss can fire you. Even when you do the most remarkable things, be careful not to take credit for it at the expense of your boss. In the words of Robert Greene of 48 Laws of Power fame: never outshine your master.
5. Don’t Get Comfortable and Complacent
People get their dream jobs and they throw themselves at it with ferocity and achieve great results. Then they gradually get comfortable and complacent and stop producing results because they feel their salary is guaranteed. Job security is a myth; it doesn’t really exist. You can get fired any day. Don’t get too comfortable. Work at your job every day with zeal, intensity and excellence. It’s your source of income. Protect it.
Set a standard for yourself that is higher than your boss expects. Push yourself beyond the company average. Be so good that your company will inconvenience itself to keep you in the business. Don’t get complacent. Stretch!
6. Dance to the Heartbeat of Your Boss
You don’t work for yourself. You work for someone who has a vision and goals, and hired you to help accomplish it. Find out his heartbeat. Identify what he wants to achieve and make it your focus. Observe his style, priorities, way of doing things and make it your way. Feisty, fiercely independent and overly confident people rarely last long in any organization.
In order to be happy, make your boss happy. If you can make your boss happy, you will have a happy job. You must learn how to follow, be teachable, learn to receive feedback, and be quick to learn and apply your boss’s style and approach to work. A spirit of “That’s not my style. That’s not how I do it” will always be looking for a new job. You work for her, follow her. Make her style yours.
7. Be Versatile
You probably attended school and trained in one area or two. But perhaps the most endangered species in an organization are people who know how to do only one thing. The day you lose your edge over that one thing or your organization stops needing that one thing, you have lost your job.
Be versatile. Develop multiple skills. Offer value in different ways to your organization. Be eager to volunteer to take on jobs or projects even if they are outside of your job description. Let your company know it can count on you to get things done. Become a person who creates sleepless night for your boss the day he starts thinking of firing you.
Jeremiah Buabeng is an entrepreneur, consultant, trainer, professional speaker, and author. He has trained and/or addressed organizations including Databank, Olam Ghana, Accra City Hotel (Novotel), Vaniado, Lesedi Foundation, Axis Suites, Oasis Montessori, Healthstar Group, Lekma Polyclinic, and many more. Jeremiah is a regular resource person at conferences, churches, universities, radio, and television programmes. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.