Here are a few tips I’ve picked up over the years:
1. Be good at what you do, but not to good. Basically, be one of the productive members of the team, but not so much so until your coworkers notice, single you out, and help find a way to get you fired.
2. Don’t be terrible at what you do. If you can’t or won’t do your job, why should they keep you?
3. Use teleworking and leave sparingly. After all, if you can be absent for long periods of time, why have you there at all?
4. Lean to do other people’s job--quietly! The more you know, the cheaper it is to keep you because you can do more than one thing. So, take on new responsibilities, volunteer, learn.
5. Stay out of, but keep tuned into office gossip and politics. You don’t want to be a part of it, but you do want people to tell you what’s going on. Sometimes the grapevine can reveal when the sharks are out for you! And by all means, don’t discuss your personal life at work. But, because people fear what they don’t understand, learn to make idle, but harmless chit chat. (talk about insignificant things like what the kids did, sports, weather, etc.).
6. Learn and follow the cooperate culture for the position you’re in. Learn how you are expected to act, communicate--especially when speaking and most assuredly in disagreement, dress, and what work related social gatherings to attend. When in doubt, be conservative. And remember, ANY gathering where your coworkers or boss are in attendance is a work gathering. Finally, never drink at any gathering where coworkers or your boss are in attendance. Why, management tend to listen to management, so while your boss may be OK with your drinking, it’s almost a sure thing another manager will not be.
7. Learn to manage your boss. Read up on various methods of personality profiling and try to sum your boss up. Treat them they way the want to be treated!
8. Don’t complain. Always be positive and upbeat. If someone asks and you can‘t think of anything else, just say how glad you are to have a job.
9. Be likable. Be friendly, help others from time to time, genuinely hear what others have to say and respect their opinions, get to know the people you work with. I once had a boss call it the “likability factor.” That guy or gal everyone feels is just a “good guy” or “good people.“ It’s hard to fire someone when you feel a genuine kinship with them. Be mindful of how you present yourself and even more so of how others see you. Take note of those little cues and ask trusted friends what they think.
10. Don’t use company equipment for personal use. And never, never, never do, write, say, or look at anything sexually explicit at work.
11. Don’t date anyone at work.
12. Update your resume and keep it updated. Post it on several of the large job search engines. Carry a few clean copies with you to hand out. However, be careful--you don’t want someone from work to see it.
13. Always be on the lookout for a job, whether you have one or not. You don’t wait until you need insurance to buy it? Right? Search employment websites, newspapers, magazines, etc. And by all means, do the next bullet.
14. Network, network, network. People, not resumes, or qualifications, or anything else hire. Many jobs are never even advertised. Talk with friends who might have leads on job openings, talk with people at training classes, seminars, meetings, etc. Discretely visit other departments. Attend job fairs. If you do some work for someone outside your agency and they like what you do, put a feeler out. Stay connected, when you meet someone in a position to either give you a job or let you know one is opening up, stay in touch--send a Christmas card or drop a friendly email.
15. Remember that when an employer has a job opening there is a problem that employer is trying to solve. Often the problems an employer is having, and therefore a job opening, can be found in unconventional places like the television, magazines, and radio. Just yesterday I saw that a major housing authority had fired their executive director and a senior board member was running things. I also saw where a major county was getting a multi-million dollar grant to revitalize a community. So, I shot them both a resume!
16. Be prepared to do anything legal that pays the bills. You may be a software engineer now, but if working two jobs as a restaurant manager will pay the bills, do it!
17. Always find time to volunteer--you will meet lots of people and do lots of good. And if that’s not enough, you will undoubtedly hear about some of those employer problems, i.e. job openings.
18. Heaven forbid if it should happen, but if you must leave a job, for good or bad, leave gracefully. Don’t badmouth your boss or coworkers and don’t cast blame. Remember, you will probably need a reference. One trick I've seen is to befriend a mid to senior level staffer who is familiar with you work and have them write the recommendation.