Just read this cool article by Indi Samarajiva:
You have a job. It may be a good one, one that you enjoy. Or it could be a crappy one you can’t wait to get out of. But whatever it is, there’s always going to be a concern nagging you from the back of your mind: what happens if I get laid off tomorrow?
It’s a scary thought: you risk being evicted if you can’t pay rent; you could lose access to Internet or even electricity; worse, you may have people depending on you who will have to struggle with you. The stakes are real high.
So what can you do to secure your job, your livelihood and possibly the very thing that could be defining and supporting your existence?
You find dirt on your boss and blackmail them.
I’m joking. This is a guide on how to secure your job, not how to end up in the courthouse (or grave).
Anyway, here’s the 3-step guide to securing your job and livelihood:
Step 1: Know the secret to becoming irreplaceable
One way (if not the only way) to secure your current job is to become irreplaceable.
Here’s the secret: first understand why you are hired, then double down on giving your employer just that.
Example: you are hired as a junior developer.
Why do you have the job? Because your company needs some software to be developed so they can profit off of it.
But why you? Why a junior? Because you are cheaper than a senior and ideally you will grow with the company and become a loyal part of the “family”. So the 3 reasons you are paid to do what you do is:
- Technical abilities
- Cost-effectiveness (you can get the job done, albeit slower, but much less expensive than a senior who could also be harder to manage)
- Loyalty (because hiring is hard and expensive)
Now, to secure your position, you double down on those factors:
- Improve your technical abilities so you can provider higher quality work in less time
- Provide more value in your current position and wear more hats if you can. They are now paying you $X per year as a junior developer. What if you make it so that they are paying $X per year for a junior developer who is also a designer, a marketer, an event planner, an office admin?
- Pledge loyalty to the company by initiating activities/projects/events that help the company grow and bond as a team. Also helps if you become a public evangelist for the company (basically wearing one more hat; see point above).
If you are reading this far, I expect you to be in one of two schools of people: the people whose blood is boiling right now and thinking “what? I’m already not paid enough, now you want me to do MORE???” and the people whose mind is going 1,000 miles/hour thinking “hmm, I guess I can do more things in my current position, but I’m not really good at other things, so how can I add value in other areas?”
If you are in the second school, then congrats, you are on your way to making more and having more security in your job.
If you are in the first school, don’t worry, I’m not saying you are a lazy slob who only wants to do the bare minimum to make money. I’m sure if you are reading articles on Medium, you are already a person who’s willing to improve yourself and not just do the bare minimum. Plus we are all human, so it’s not wrong to want to do less and get more at the same time.
Either way, after getting the first point, you are ready to improve and optimize.
Step 2: Value, value, value
Once you understand how you can become irreplaceable, you can now optimize your way of achieving irreplaceability.
I mentioned in the previous point that you can do more in your current position to provide more value to your company and become more irreplaceable.
Now, you are smart. You don’t just read what I wrote and think “ah, OK. Let me just apply that to my work right now.”
Instead, you think “that doesn’t sound very scalable and part of the reason I want security is so that I can have less stress and more freedom. Taking on more work doesn’t help me get there.”
You are absolutely right. My suggestion in step 1 is for beginners. It’s more about shifting your mindset than getting you to actually do more work. Once you understand “I need to provide more value in my current position”, then you are golden and ready for the intermediate level.
What you want to figure out now is: how can I add more value in the most direct way possible without doing significantly more work?
Why? Because you are working for a company, a business. As much as your boss likes to say “we are one big family and we take care of each others”, you are providing value for a business in exchange of value (monetary) back.
So to become irreplaceable, you will want to focus your attention and energy on creating the most value with the least amount of effort in the most direct way possible.
When you can do that, you are effectively and efficiently becoming more and more valuable and ultimately more irreplaceable.
Step 3: Be a good person
Arguably the least important step of all three, but an important one regardless.
Just be a good person. Be kind. Be humble. Be supportive.
A mean, egotistic, and discouraging person is one that co-workers and employers want to get rid of first.
This is a simple step. It’s also a crucial one.
Will this get you more money? Maybe, maybe not.
In the business setting where it’s all about generating more revenue and cutting costs, being a good person isn’t a requirement at all.
But when you work with other people, it’s more productive when you are a good person.
You get things done quicker because when you support others, others support you back.
You get better ideas because your colleagues are more willing to brainstorm ideas with you and collaborate when you are humble and respectful of others.
All this allows you to be more productive in your quest to provide more value in the most direct way possible. That’s how you become irreplaceable. That’s you can get security.