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We’ve all heard the media declare the recession was all but behind us. Things are getting better with each passing day and those numbers that tell the tale that employers are hiring once again is just around the corner, right? For many of us, though, it feels anything but. If you’re thinking lay-offs are out of your hands and it comes down to a manager picking and choosing on a whim who receives the pink slips, think again. There are some things you can do that while might not guarantee exemption from a layoff, they sure can go a long way in shifting the odds in your favor. Here’s what career coach and founder A. Harrison Barnes suggests:

Go above and beyond expectations of your management. Volunteer to take on that dreaded project that everyone else is dancing around hoping someone else will step up to the plate and tackle. The goal is to become as indispensible as possible. Up your value factor by taking on new assignments; don’t shy away from the more challenging assignments, either. The founder warns not to take too much on, though, since your efforts could backfire if your work falls below your proven quality.

Polishing your career skills is another way to steer clear of the layoff list. Take a night course that will improve your career worth while also building your own confidence. This has two advantages, says A. Harrison Barnes. First, you’re becoming more valuable to the company but perhaps more importantly, you’re adding to your resume should the layoff list land front and center on your desk.

Continue your networking efforts and make new contacts. This, says Barnes, is always a good idea whether the threat of layoffs is in the air or not. Don’t forget, however, your best efforts should be reserved to growing those working relationships with your boss and co-workers. It’s all about remaining versatile and visible. You never know who can benefit you and your career a year from now.

Finally, arrive early and be the last one to leave in the evenings. Again, this shows you’re committed and focused. If you’re asked to work the occasional weekend or if an early Monday meeting is at stake, bring the work home with you if necessary. Barnes says it’s important to not approach this with the goal of being seen, but in an effort to get a head start on your day so that you’re better prepared for that 9 a.m. meeting with your manager. Besides, a few minutes to yourself before the morning rush can go a long way in setting the pace for how the rest of your day will unfold.

No one can guarantee your job will be here tomorrow, and unfortunately, not even your own efforts are guaranteed to work. Keep your resume current and your ear to the ground. If all of your efforts aren’t paying off, the best thing you can do for yourself is to stay prepared, just in case you find yourself in the worst position.

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