We all know people who have recently lost their jobs. Maybe you're lucky enough to still have a paycheck, but for how long? Fortunately there are several simple things you can do to make yourself unfireable.
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Be the First to Arrive and the Last to Leave
Showing up to work first and leaving last shows your boss that you are dedicated to your job. Make sure to leave your office door open so your boss can see you putting in the long hours.
Cut the Company's Costs
Take a look at where your company is spending its money. Then see if there are ways to reduce those costs. Your boss won't fire someone who is improving the company's bottom line.
Make the Company More Money
Even better, figure out ways to increase revenue. Find a new client or develop new products and services for your company to sell. (See also: How to Make an Extra Income.)
Just Say No to Drama
Be sure to avoid drama whenever possible. If someone starts gossiping to you, simply excuse yourself by saying "I'm so sorry, I really have to finish this project. Maybe we can catch up later after work?" This way you can avoid the drama without being too rude to the gossiper.
Even though you should avoid drama, try to stay informed about what other people are saying about you. If you know what is being said about you, you can figure out how to improve your relationships with coworkers or know if you need to step it up. By being aware of how you are perceived, you can always be on top of your game.
Learn New Skills
Take advantage of any training, certification, or back-to-school programs offered by your employer. The more skills you develop the more valuable you become to your employer. If your company doesn't offer any programs, buy some new books and start training yourself.
Give Progress Reports
Make sure your boss knows how hard you are working and what you are working on by giving him or her progress reports on a weekly basis. If your boss has evidence that you are pulling your weight, he or she will be less likely to fire you.
Make Everybody Love You
Be friendly with everyone. Never say anything negative, mean, or condescending. No matter how much you hate your job, always show up with a smile on your face. (See also: How to Thrive in a Job You Hate).
Show You Are a Leader
If you are on a new project and no one seems to be taking charge, step up and be a leader. They can't fire you if you're the point person of an important ongoing project.
Show You Are a Team Player
You have to be able to work well with your coworkers. Listen to their suggestions. Adapt to each person's idiosyncrasies. Treat each coworker with respect and courtesy. If you can't be a member of a team, chances are you won't survive the next layoff.
Make sure your boss knows about your family by keeping pictures of them on your desk or bringing them to company parties when appropriate. Also, show an interest in your boss's family in return. Employers are less likely to fire someone they have a personal relationship with. Just be wary of over sharing. Keep personal conversations light and upbeat.
Don't Take Unfair Advantage of Sick Days
Only take a sick or personal day when you absolutely need to do so. Be honest with yourself--are you really sick or just sick of going into work? Whenever you're feeling lazy, just remember the countless unemployed people who would love to have your job.
Take on Responsibilities that No One Else Wants to Do
Chances are there are responsibilities at your company that no one wants to do because, well, they are tedious and boring. Bite the bullet and offer to take on the task that no one wants to do. Your boss (and coworkers) will love you for it.
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Positivity Goes a Long Way
By remaining positive during tough times, you can help create a more optimistic work environment. Positive people are always the last ones to get fired.
Don't Abuse Internet Privileges
It is very easy for companies to track what you do on your computer while in the office, especially online activities. Stay off of Facebook, don't check your personal emails, don't surf the web, and don't use your company email address to send personal emails.
Be the Social Chair
Who would want to fire the life of the party? Probably no one, so make yourself the social chair at your company. Come up with fun events that your coworkers actually want to participate in. You will boost company morale by making sure everyone is having a good time and make your boss think twice about handing you a pink slip.
Ashley Jacobs is the college correspondent for personal finance blog Wise Bread. Follow her latest tweets on @CollegeCents. http://twitter.com/collegecents