How to Keep Your Job With High Unemployment Rates

6 Tips to Help You Increase the Chances of Keeping Your Job

Unemployment continues to remain high and jobs are hard to come by. The national average is still over 9 percent while many areas are being hit with unemployment rates of about 10 percent. Think about that for a minute. One out of every ten people you know is likely to be without a job. If not now, but possibly in the near future. Of course, if you work in an industry that’s already being hit hard, this may already be the case or even worse.

So how do you make sure that you’re not that one out of ten without a job? Unfortunately, in some positions or with certain companies, nobody is safe. But there are many situations where layoffs are more selective, and by taking the initiative to make a few good decisions you can improve your chances of keeping your job when it comes time to let some people go.

Make Yourself Available

If your company has already let some people go, that means there’s just as much work to be done, only by fewer people. Those who still have a job will need to pick up some of the slack. This means that you should be making yourself available to take on additional tasks or help with projects that you might not have otherwise had to do. While nobody wants to take on more work for no additional pay, in times like these it pays to be someone who offers to help.

When you take the lead and offer your assistance when asked you increase your value to your boss and employer. You become someone that they can count on, and this will likely play a role in determining who they can afford to let go if layoffs are on the way. Of course, this is a double-edged sword.  It is possible that in offering up this additional help your boss may begin to take advantage of you and pile on even more work. You don’t want to be put in that situation either. But in times like these, you need to weigh the options. Get burdened with more work and be thankful you have a job, or refuse to do more work and risk losing your job.

Let Your Boss Know What You’re Doing

Just doing good work alone isn’t enough. Your boss is probably just as stressed out, if not more so, about uncertainty at work and the possibility of cutting workers. They probably aren’t completely in-tune with everything you’re doing, and unless you bring issues up with your boss directly they may go unnoticed. This doesn’t mean you should burden your boss with your every little accomplishment, but you need to let him know you’re out there and getting things done.

It doesn’t take much either. Just shooting a quick email updating your supervisor about the completion of an assignment, or informing them of something that would make them happy since it reduces their workload or stress will go a long way. The bottom line is you want to have regular communication, whether big or small. Again, when it comes down to deciding who needs to stay and go, the more visible you’ve been to your superiors, the more likely the perceived value in keeping you on.

Network With Others

Networking can not only help you keep your job, but it can prove very valuable when it’s time to seek out a new job. Your personal connections matter and if you’re a loner in the office, your chances of retaining your position when others are perceived to be bigger team players, begins to drop. You don’t have to go out for drinks with the entire office every day after work, but you should make an effort to connect with your co-workers. This can improve your relationship with others, and even translate to improved performance in the office.

You should also consider joining any professional organizations that relate to your job or industry and take part in local networking events. Again, this alone might not save your job, but the connections you build will help you find new work through the connections you’ve made. If time is a constraint or you don’t have many local networking opportunities, you might want to check out an online service like LinkedIn where you can search, find, and network with friends, co-workers, and other industry players from the comfort of your home.

Keep Up on Job Skills

When was the last time you did something that increased your value as an employee? Maybe it was some continuing education, getting a new certification, or just attending an optional seminar, but how long has it been since you took the initiative to expand your skill set? If you’re like most, it’s been a while. Especially when you’re in a field that doesn’t require things like this. But outdated job skills can be the difference between keeping your job or getting laid off.

So check with your employer to see if there are any advancement opportunities. They may offer some free online internal courses to brush up on some skills, or maybe even help pay for outside education programs. You won’t know unless you ask. Granted, you don’t want to go out and suddenly decide to start an MBA program just for the sake of looking good, but you should take advantage of any opportunities that can help you stay abreast of what is going on in your field of work.

Be Conservative

I’m not talking about political affiliation here, but your work style. When companies are struggling and doing their best to make ends meet, there isn’t as much room for error. If you’re someone who regularly pushes the envelope and tries new or radical ideas, it might be a good idea to tone things down a bit. It isn’t that thinking outside the box or trying to be innovative is bad, it’s just there is little room for mistakes in this type of environment.

When companies are rapidly growing and healthy, it’s almost encouraged to think this way, but when your job might be on the line it’s time to ratchet down and stick to the core values of the company. You might argue that being innovative and coming up with a great idea could also save your job. And it’s true, if you come up with something or take the company in a direction that saves or makes money, you could be seen as a hero. But if you fail, you’re seen as the employee who went out on a limb and messed up. It’s all about risk and reward. Taking a risk might yield a big reward, but could also accelerate your departure. Being more conservative in times like these could prove to be the better course of action. If you do have some new and great idea you should bring it up with your superiors and discuss it in a team environment. It may still be a great idea, but when more people are involved you aren’t simply sticking your neck out there if things go wrong.

Don’t Complain

Above all, don’t complain. Are you ticked off that Sally was assigned a task that you were expected to do, or mad that someone threw out your leftover cake in the break room? Now is the time to bite your tongue. Don’t make a big deal out of petty stuff. If you are seen as someone who whines or complains, you’ll become part of the office gossip. It doesn’t pay to make a big deal out of things that don’t directly affect your job security. But if word gets around that you’re always the one complaining it won’t help save your job.

Obviously, if something is being done that’s wrong, against policy, or directly affects your performance, that’s one thing. But if a co-worker does something annoying, or your boss assigns you a menial task, it’s probably in your best interest to suck it up and go on with your business. Everyone is stressed out, but don’t be known as the guy or girl at the office who complains about everything. You’ll surely be noticed, but not in a good way.

Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle

My name is Jeremy Vohwinkle, and I’ve spent a number of years working in the finance industry providing financial advice to regular investors and those participating in employer-sponsored retirement plans.


I like the tip about not complaining. I have always had the philosophy of: "You're going to be at work for at least 8 hours, one way or another. Why not make the most of it? No need to complain!" In other words, the day will be much more pleasant if you keep a good attitude about it.


I have to stress letting your boss know what you are doing, because at the end of the day, month, year, that is concrete evidence of your work ethic, something that they can refer to even during reviews and layoffs..

Converting A Spendthrift
Converting A Spendthrift

I totally agree, if you are being open and friendly to everyone that alone can take you far. My company has had layoffs and firings. Most of those people let go have been the unfriendly and the unproductive. In the social atomsphere of the company, they haven't even been missed


Networking yourself is huge! How many times have you landed a job or at least gotten a foot in the door because of someone you know? People by human nature like to do business with people they know and trust; networking can help build those relationships and could come in very handy in case you get the pink slip.


Show your value to your boss is definitely #1. If the company knows your value, you have a better chance of staying on opposed to someone else. I would also add try to update skills. To learn the basics, or know the very minimal in a different area or skill could be enough to give you an edge over someone else.

GE Miller
GE Miller

Good list. Another thing to work on is friendliness and sense of humor in the workplace. When tough choices have to be made and morale may be suffering, being known for friendliness and a light heart can be a big benefit. Those who sit at their desk, don't smile or joke around, may be targets. People like to work with who they like.