How to Manage Your Career in Uncertain Times

By Gerald Walsh ©

With one in five jobs in Canada dependent on trade with the United States, the election of Donald Trump has injected a lot of angst into the Canadian job market. While no one knows just what the economic impact is going to be, a lot of businesses are “holding tight” for the time being until they can get a clearer picture of how his policies will affect them.

What does that mean for you – and your job – right now?  

Although there is a natural tendency to retreat in times like this, the best approach is just the opposite – be proactive. Here are six strategies to help you not only survive but thrive through these uncertain times:

1. Stand out among the crowd.

This is not the time to just “put your head down and do your job.” Make sure your boss knows what you are doing. Without sounding boastful, communicate your contributions to the company. Speak up at meetings. Volunteer for special projects. Work a bit later than everyone else in the office. Remember, most other people are quite comfortable being unnoticed. So, being extraordinary and standing out from the pack is often relatively easy.

Read more: One of the best sources of information on how to build your personal brand is Dorie Clark.

2. Seek ways to deliver value.

Cost centres, like customer service, human resources, finance, and administration, are usually the first areas that employers look to save money. If you happen to work in a cost centre, look for ways to reduce costs. You can be just as valuable to your employer if you save money as another employee who brings in money. Even if you are not in a position to influence the bottom line directly, you can contribute tangibly by becoming a better team player, serving as a mentor to younger workers, or spreading positive news, rather than gossip and worry.

3. Be easy to work with.

The squeaky wheel doesn’t always get the grease. It’s the one more likely to get demoted or even get fired. Employers are more inclined to keep employees who have a positive attitude. While there is an inclination for many people to complain about circumstances beyond their control – such as the economy – a whining attitude will not be well received by your employer. Having a respectful, caring, enthusiastic attitude is the best policy.

Read more: 8 Behaviours That May Be Damaging Your Career

4. Keep your skills current.

Companies also tend to first let go people whose skills are outdated, or those who have difficulty accepting changes in the company. Even if your employer will not reimburse you for training costs, you should continue to upgrade your skills. You will be seen as someone willing to invest in your own future and someone worth hanging on to.

5. Build internal relationships within your company.

If your boss is the only person who knows how good you are, you are taking a big risk. True, your boss can be a real champion for you. But don’t rely on them. They may have their own problems, or may leave the organization. Instead, ensure that you are well-known throughout the organization and that you are open to opportunities in other departments. These internal relationships can be handy when most needed.

6. Be a supporter not a resister.

These are challenging times for managers. They may be facing difficult decisions about how to generate more revenue or where to cut costs. This is not the time to resist change. If your company is not giving raises this year or eliminating certain perks, understand that these steps may be needed for the company to survive. Support the new plan, offer helpful suggestions, and speak favourably about it around your co-workers. Your ability to empathize, particularly when facing adversity, reveals a maturity that will elevate your status.


What are three things you can do right now to help your company, and in doing so, increase your value to it?

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Gerald Walsh is an executive recruiter, career coach, public speaker and writer. During a 25+ year career, he has interviewed more than 10,000 job candidates, completed hundreds of successful searches for a range of organizations and guided many individuals – from young professionals to senior executives – to successful career change. He is the author of “PINNACLE: How to Land the Right Job and Find Fulfillment in Your Career.” You can follow Gerry on Twitter @@Gerald_Walsh and LinkedIn.