Do you need to know how to keep your job because you’ve heard rumors going around about downsizing or layoffs?  This can be a scary time, and you can feel pretty helpless waiting around for word on whether you’re going to be involved in this life-changing event.  However, there are things you can do to show your employer that you are a serious employee and they can not afford to lose you.  So if you want to know how to fight like hell to keep your job like I did recently, read on.

Go to the human resources person with a list of questions.  Some of these may be, “When will we be told about layoffs that are taking place?”  “Are layoffs going to be judged based on performance or seniority?”  Be polite and courteous even if you get answers like, “We don’t know yet.”  Part of the goal in this step is to get some positive face time with people who are involved in the layoff process.  If you act calm and professional hey will be more willing to help you, or tell you, “Well, this is off the record but…”

Rewrite your resume with an emphasis on extra things you have done at your job.  Think about any meetings or trainings you conducted that was outside of your typical job description.  Put that in bold with the date, then on the next line write a brief description (starting with a verb) that tells what you did.  For example, “Curriculum Workshop: Developed a 90 minute training for teachers for their professional development.”  Do this for committees, any outsourcing you’ve done, coursework or trainings you’ve taken to stay current, and any other activities that you’ve been involved in that were in addition to your required role.  Group like activities, place them under the appropriate headings, and sort activities within the same group chronologically just like you would in a typical resume. 

Type up excerpts of commendations from evaluations that you have earned at your job.  You can bullet a list of these points from each evaluation, followed by the title and position of the person evaluating you, and the date.  Create a list like this for several evaluations so that you fill a page or two. 

Type a cover letter to the person who is determining who is being laid off.  In the first paragraph, introduce yourself, tell your job position and how long you’ve been there.  Also explain you’re writing because you are concerned about the upcoming layoffs.  In the second paragraph, explain the contents of your packet (the activities and commendations) and explain that this signifies how much the company has invested in you.  In the closing paragraph, you might write something like, “Thank you for your time and your consideration.  I sincerely hope you will allow me the privilege of continuing to work for you.”  Address it as you would any business letter.  Attempt to hand deliver this packet in order to make this more personal to the person who will be determining your fate.

Let your immediate supervisor know about the steps that you’ve taken (unless they are the person you’ve given the materials to).  This way if the person “at the top” asks, they won’t be caught off guard.  They might be more prepared to say, “Yes, I’m impressed s/he was proactive enough to do it, and I really do want to keep them here.” 

Prepare yourself for the news.  If you’ve done all of the above, all you can do is hope while you wait for the news.  You can prepare for the worst and start job hunting, gathering old transcripts, and update your resume with the materials you prepared in step two.  Or you can try to relax if there’s some time before you hear about the layoffs.  Try to take comfort in knowing that some things happen for a reason.  However if there was any chance you were on the cusp of keeping/losing your job, the above actions can make the difference.  Good luck.