By Robert DiGiacomo
Keeping your job in good economic times -- and bad -- depends on one variable: whether your boss likes you.
"Merit has very little to do with why people are kept," says Stephen Viscusi, author, radio host and professional recruiter. "It has to do with who the boss likes and who gets along with the other employees. I'm not talking about a brown-noser, but someone the boss likes and who's doing a good job. Bosses find legal excuses to let go someone they really don't like, nine times out of 10."
In his latest book -- Bulletproof Your Job: 4 Simple Strategies to Ride Out the Rough Times and Come Out on Top at Work -- Viscusi offers job-preservation tips to help keep you on your manager's good side and advance your career.
Some key bits of advice from the book are highlighted in the tips below.
What's Your Reputation?
If you want the higher-ups to really, really like you, it's not enough to be the top sales representative or the most-productive worker. You want to avoid being perceived as too high maintenance with vacation or other demands, or a complainer about the company and its policies.
At the same time, you can increase your popularity by mentoring colleagues, or being the go-to person for technical and other workplace questions.
"It's as simple as being nice to people," Viscusi says. "People notice nice people. If you're nice and qualified, your boss thinks how much nicer it is not to fire you."
Small Details Matter
Make sure you sweat the small stuff, especially with emails and written communications.
"Spell-check your spell check," Viscusi says. "I interviewed over 600 bosses for the book, and a lot told me it's the little stuff that sets people apart. It's always being on time, the spell-checking, checking messages and returning phone calls."
Last Car in the Lot
Staying at your desk five minutes after your boss departs for the night creates the impression of your being extra-dedicated to the job.
"It's a trick, but it works," Viscusi says. "Even if you leave two minutes later, your boss is going to think you're there late every single night."
The Power of Being Direct
Worried that you might be laid off? Ask your supervisor if there's a way to save your job.
"You should be close enough to the boss on a personal level to ask, 'How can I avoid being one of the numbers?'" Viscusi says.
Or if your boss tells you a budget crunch mandates letting someone go -- and for personal or professional reasons you're not ready to leave -- consider offering to take a salary cut as incentive to keep you.
"If they really say no, that means they didn't like you," Viscusi says.Articles in This Feature: