Here’s a test of your boss's self-control and a measure of your standing in your department. Go him or her and say, “I have an idea!” Watch his or her face carefully. Odds are your boss will do a slow blink. (That’s how skilled bosses cover an eye-roll.) Then, make a note of what he or she says next, and you’ll know where you stand in your team’s ranking order. If you hear, “Great, let’s hear it.” Then you know you are indispensable and that you have a track record of innovating. If you hear, “Okay, but I’m in a bit of hurry.” Then you’re a typical performer. If you hear, “That’s good, but hold that thought because we really need you to focus on your work.” You should understand you’re on the secret list of employees to be axed in the next layoff.

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Whether you're job searching or just trying to keep your current job, there are few things every professional should know when they network. Don't be lazy - Are you doing all that you can to be successful? I remember when I was teaching my son to drive and he got cocky about how good he was. I told him, “It’s not about your making a mistake; it’s about someone else making one for you.” It’s that kind of economy. Some thoughts…

Stop Being Beige

There’s no use sitting back in the corner, wearing beige, and leaning up against a beige wall, hoping no one will get around to firing you. That’s not how it works. Every manager has a list and is looking to cross off names – the closer to invisible you are around the workplace, the easier it is to make you disappear from the payroll.

Work One Degree From The Profits

Remember that thing about “six degrees of separation”? Well, in corporate life, you want to think about degrees of separation from profits. If your work generates revenues that result in profits, odds are you’re going to be fine. Then, one degree of separation out, if you’re one of the people that profit-producers say they couldn’t live without, you might be OK. But if you work for somebody who works for somebody who works with somebody who generates profits... well, get yourself a reserved parking spot at Kinko’s because you’re going to be printing out a lot of resumes. (Emergency escape route: If you are known for figuring out how to cut costs, rather than merely being a cost, then you’ve moved within one degree of separation.)

Don’t Put Your Head In The Guillotine And Wonder How It Works

There are still plenty of companies that are thriving, and you need to be in one… fast. I was talking with a guy the other day who told me he was working for a family business that’s losing over $100K a month. So I say, “How’s the job hunting going?” He replied, “I’m waiting to see how things play out.” Well, a week later he called to say he’d been laid-off – that’s how things played, OUT. In other words, he’d let himself become a hardworking slacker - a job search slacker. He asked if I knew of any jobs, and all I could think was, could I recommend a guy who dumb enough to lay his head in the guillotine and wonder how it worked? So, all I did was toss off the old “dirty ear” (“I’ll keep my ear to the ground”). Then, I offered him this suggestion…

Be A Bargain

Dare to be a lousy negotiator. This same guy had always bragged about how he got paid more than he was worth. Well, those people who most skillfully squeezed their employers are the first ones cut – you got two people doing the same job and you’re paying one twenty percent more, who ya gonna cut? Everyone wants a bargain – don’t be afraid to be one. Yes, we’re in an economy where you don’t have to make a mistake – somebody will make one for you. Time to put the “work” in “networking.” Photo Credit: Shutterstock