Someone sent me the results of a survey that said employees spend nearly three hours a day worrying about job security. Based on what I hear people discussing on elevators, at lunch and while standing in halls waiting for meetings to start I would guess they spend more time than that worrying about their jobs while they’re at work. And it doesn’t end there.
They worry when they see the news that points out around the clock the rising unemployment rate, disappearing jobs, slower hiring rates and layoffs. And of course there are those 3 in the morning worry-wake-up calls.
Psychologists say that worry is a habitual way of thinking that comes about because certain thoughts get triggered. And then there is such a thing as “productive worrying” which is when your worry motivates you to do something productive about what you’re worried about.
Almost every worker I’ve talked to who says they’re being productive about their worry is doing two things: Updating their resume and talking to recruiters. That’s not enough.
If you want to be prepared in case you lose your job or you’re already conducting a job search, you must do much more to compete with all the other qualified folks. You need to start by arming yourself with answers to these questions:
- How does what you do everyday – or have done – translate into something that matters to your company or a new one at this particular point in time?
- What kinds of things do you know about that your company – or ones you want to work for – depend on – especially now?
- What special talents and skills do you have that your company or another one rely on and need now more than ever to stay in business and be competitive?
- What can you do that goes beyond what’s expected in your job or the one you want – especially now?
- What specifically can you do to not only help your company or another one get through this economic period, but evolve?
- What would you tell a new employer they need to do to prepare for the future of their industry? And how will you help them accomplish that through the work you’re qualified to do?
Most people won’t take the time to answer these questions. It’s work to figure out why you matter in such concrete, precise ways. It’s not easy to think like your boss and the owner of your company. It’s tedious to think through what makes you better than the other 300 people applying for the same job in 60-second sound bites.
It’s easier to call a recruiter and just update your resume. It’s what everyone else is doing.
If you want to be the one who intrigues a potential employer, buckle down and figure out these answers. If you want to be the one your company is more likely to consider keeping as times get tough and layoffs loom, give them good reason. Put on your thinking cap and know these answers.
What are you waiting for? I’ve just handed you a tool that helps you do something productive about what you’re worried about. Not to mention that it just might cut down on those three in the morning worry wake-up calls.
Andrea Kay is the author of “Work’s a Bitch and Then You Make It Work: 6 Steps to Go From Pissed Off to Powerful.” Send questions to her at 2692 Madison Rd., (POUND)133, Cincinnati, OH 45208; www.andreakay.com or www.lifesabitchchangecareers.com. She can be e-mailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org.