Companies large and small around the world are struggling with a once-in-a-generation economic crisis, and all of these companies – no matter how dissimilar – have one thing in common: they are looking to cut costs. A simple truth:  you could be one of those costs.

You may feel that “crisis” is too strong a word:  it’s not. Just the U.S. as an example:  we’ve lost two million jobs in the last year; the financial sector is a disaster; U.S. manufacturing is in recession; the housing market still hasn’t hit bottom; consumer confidence is at all-time historic lows; last quarter, this quarter and the 1st two quarters of 2009 will be marked by negative GDP growth; the auto industry is nearly in bankruptcy…  should I keep going?

You may feel you’re indispensable at your company: you’re not. No one is.

There are several solid strategies for surviving a recession, but there’s one thing you can do today that will help you try to ensure that you save your job.  And it’s relatively simple.

Here it is: go in to your boss’s office and ask him or her if there’s anything extra you can do to help out as things slow down.  If there’s an area in your function or elsewhere in the company that’s shorthanded already, ask if you could help out there.  If you are aware of a cost reduction opportunity, by all means suggest it.

This simple act – at this time – is one of the wisest things you can do.  Face it: your boss may very well be under pressure to cut heads.  She could be compiling a list right now.  Convey your willingness to support the company in whatever ways are necessary NOW – it could make a significant difference.

We happen to be short in Purchasing at the moment, partly because someone resigned recently. I was talking to a younger member of my staff about the situation and kiddingly said, “You wouldn’t want to work in Purchasing for a while, would you?”  The next day he came back to my office and offered to help out in Purchasing if it would help the situation at all. Guess whose stock went up in my mind – immediately?

Do it.  Offer to help out or take on extra work.  It’s the right thing to do at the right time.

My apologies for posting this during Christmas week, I know the timing is unfortunate, but doing this could be the best Christmas gift you’ve ever given yourself.

Finally:  I’ve linked to this article at Fortune magazine in the past, but it’s worth revisiting:  “8 ways to recession proof your job.” It’s a quick read – check it out if you haven’t seen it before.

Best of luck to you, and I hope you and your family have a wonderful Holiday.

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