How Can I Keep From Being Laid Off?

Content Therapy is Managing Editor’s monthly advice column, where Paul Chaney responds to your questions about the messy dilemmas content marketers face in their work. We are (obviously) not licensed therapists.

I’m Worried About My Job Security!

Dear Content Therapist: I’ve been working as a B2B marketer in tech since I graduated from college five years ago. It’s not always fun, but I have thought of it as stable, and I’ve gotten steady raises. Now, I’m seeing all these announcements about layoffs, and I’m wondering just how safe this career path actually is. If we really do head into a recession, what can I do to improve my odds of keeping a steady job?

Paul Chaney: I admire your desire for job stability and security, even at the expense of doing work you enjoy.

However, given that there is no guarantee of either stability or job security, particularly with the looming recession and its effect on tech companies, you may need a reality check. The sad fact is that when times get tough, marketers are often some of the first to get the ax.

That being the case, you have one option: Prove your worth. By that, I mean, demonstrate how what you do drives revenue. That’s harder for marketing than sales because the path to a return on investment (ROI) is not always direct.

These suggestions may help:

Learn What Your Supervisor and Your Company Value, and Play to That

For example, I had a marketing role where the supervisor was the vice president of business development. His priority, first and foremost, was to generate a sufficient number of sales-qualified leads to keep his pipeline filled. To him, that was the sum total of marketing’s role.

While you and I both know that marketing offers much more value — branding and driving customer loyalty are two good examples — for him, leads were the order of the day. (Ours was a very competitive industry, so I understand his priorities, even if I feel they were somewhat misplaced.)

Build Rapport

Another action step: Build rapport with your supervisor. There are benefits to having “watercooler” conversations that may have nothing to do with work. Will it safeguard you from becoming unemployed? No, but building a personal relationship with your boss may give you an edge if the choice is between you and another employee.

You should not only build rapport with your boss but also with the sales team. They are the ones who have the most pull with the C-suite. If you befriend them, you may find you have an ally who will advocate on your behalf when decisions are made about personnel reductions.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Let your supervisor know what you’re doing and the effect it has on ROI. That involves more than a monthly report. Sometimes, it means just sticking your head in their office and sharing anecdotal evidence serendipitously.

Be 1st to the Plate

Be proactive. If a project comes up, volunteer to take it on. If there’s extra work to be done, say you’ll do it. When a team needs leadership, express your willingness to take charge. The added visibility and positive attitude toward your job you display may serve you well.

It’s tough being a marketer in such uncertain times, but marketing has always been a volatile career path, even in the best of times. Hopefully, by taking these steps, you will be in a better position to achieve your goal of long-term employment.

I Think My New Boss Hates Me!

Dear Content Therapist: I’ve been in my job as a content marketer for about a year, and I thought I was doing well. We just got a new chief marketing officer six weeks ago, and I’m not sure she agrees. She’s hired three new people quickly, and some of the things they are doing are part of my job description. We never really discussed this. In fact, we don’t discuss much at all. Aside from one meeting the first week she started, we haven’t had a single one-on-one meeting. Should I start applying for a new job?

Paul Chaney: Believe me, I understand your concern, but let’s examine a few scenarios:

  1. The new CMO may have a list of people she’s worked with in the past who she is bringing on board. Have you looked into the possibility that this new group is among that number?
  2. She may have a particular skill set “template” that these new hires fit.
  3. She may be getting ready to clean house and start over with a new team.

I had a similar situation occur with a previous employer. I had been with the company for about three years and thought I was doing a good job. However, the CEO hired a CMO whose personality and mine did not gel.

I was her direct report, and it seemed I could never please her, no matter how hard I tried. I felt like the handwriting was on the wall. Rather than risk being fired, I resigned and started my own small company, a freelance content marketing business.

You mentioned that you and she don’t talk much, if at all. It could be time to dust off your resume, but a preemptive step would be to schedule a meeting with the CMO and share your concerns. You may find your worries are unwarranted. At the very least, you’ll have a better sense of where you stand.

There are four stages of relationship formation: forming, storming (conflict), norming (getting aligned), and performing. Every lasting relationship goes through those.

At present, you are in the forming stage. Asking for a sit-down with the CMO might feel like you’re inviting conflict, but it may also open the door to alignment that leads to a better relationship, heightened productivity and the reassurance that you have a future with the company. And if she is cleaning house, this gives her a chance to be upfront about it.

Regardless of the outcome, it’s in your best interest to be proactive.

Disclaimer: The advice offered in this column is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute for advice from a licensed mental health provider, health care provider or legal professional.


Paul Chaney
Paul Chaney is a freelance B2B writer, editor, blogger, journalist, marketer, ghostwriter, and author (that was a mouthful!) with more than 25 years of experience in the content marketing space. As president of Prescriptive Writing, he creates content that helps brands connect with their customers in meaningful, substantive ways.

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