Bob Selden

Bob SeldenBob Selden is the MD of the National Learning Institute. He has been an HRD consultant for over 30 years, prior to which he was a line manager in a financial organisation. He is an Australian currently based in Switzerland.  He coaches at the Australian Graduate School of Management in Sydney. He is the author of "What To Do When You Become The Boss", a self-help book for managers.  Contact Bob at

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Bob Selden has written 10 articles for SB Informer.
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How to make yourself recession-proof

Bob Selden

January 28, 2009

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I spoke to a friend the other day who said she was worried about her job security.  Her company’s performance over the last twelve months had not been too good and now, with the economic downturn, she was worried that there might be lay-offs.


What can you do in times like these if you have similar fears?


Well, there are some things that are within your control, and others that you may just have to manage.


Let’s start with those that you can control.


Firstly and most importantly, you need to maintain your own high level of motivation to your work.  Any drop off will be noticed.  And sometimes, this drop off can happen subconsciously as you think about the “What ifs?” rather than the current projects you are working on.  People who are not performing at their best, are the most likely to be released.


Secondly, look for opportunities where you can help your organisation grow its business and reduce costs.  For example, if you work in production, then it may be useful to get together with a colleague in marketing to see how you can help them better present your product.  Now, you might say, “Well, this happens already”.  Experience shows that often there is a gap in communication between functions on some of the often overlooked, but really important issues such as the nature of repeated customer complaints, customer enquiries on product usage, feedback from suppliers and so on. 


Think of it this way.  What’s the one thing that you have always said (to yourself or close colleagues), “If only THEY would … , we could be so much more productive and successful.”  Now’s the time to take the bit between your teeth and do something about that “If only …”


There are other ways that anyone within the business can help with promotion.  For example, some years ago I was driving home from work and heard the radio advertising a “midnight to dawn replay and celebration of a classic rock album all of next week”.  It just so happened that our latest TV add used one of the tracks from this album as its theme music.  Next morning I went straight to the Marketing Director who immediately got onto the radio station and signed up to sponsor the program.  It’s tempting to say “Yes, but who listens midnight to dawn?  How would sponsoring this segment help?”  True.  But, the ads for the program were repeated at least 4 times an hour throughout the day – great use of the advertising dollar – our company was mentioned four times an hour for very little outlay.  What’s more, the link established in the listener’s mind between our advert’s theme song and our product, was something money just could not buy!


Thirdly, there may be opportunities at work to take on extra projects, volunteer for international assignments, explore job-sharing or flexible working ideas with colleagues, and even the possibility of a sabbatical.  There’s also the option of reduced working hours – if a number of employees were to agree to this, then it just may make the difference between no job and a lesser paid job.


Once you’ve explored all the possibilities that will:


a) keep you highly motivated and performing at your best, and


b) help the organisation grow its business and/or reduce costs,


it’s time to look at things you need to do for yourself in the case that you may be laid off.


What are you an expert in?  Each of us has developed a certain level of expertise in a particular technical or professional area.  Now’s the time to explore and promote your expertise to its fullest.


1.  Join your profession’s on-line community.

There are numerous websites and blogs on any topic you care to name.  Now’s the time to contribute to these sites.  Add comments to their latest postings.  And if you are good at writing, submit articles.  At the very least, make sure you sign-off all comments with something like “Bob Selden, author of What To Do When You Become The Boss, contact me via for additional advice” 


2.  Start your own website. 

Get yourself a personal website, or if you like to write, a blog.  Better still get a website that includes a blog (I have three).  For a very small investment you can have a very professional image on the web.


3.  Post your profile on the web.

If you don’t want to go to those lengths, at the very least you must have a presence on the web.  You can do this through one of the many social networking sites.  I recommend Linkedin, which is far more business oriented than some of the others.  Make sure you set it up professionally and take full advantage of all of the options (most of which are free), such as career history, education, professional endorsements from colleagues, customers, bosses and so on.  Have a look at mine on Linkedin.


4.  Update your CV. 


Make sure it’s exciting and lists “outputs” and “endorsements” rather than a boring list of roles and experience.  You may even consider producing a short DVD of your professional career – how about posting this on your new website?


5.  Contact your network. 

Put your name out there with your colleagues and friends.  Ask for the names of recruiters and head-hunters they know of (many of whom use Linkedin to find applicants).  Draw up a list of recruiters and send your CV (and DVD if you have made one) off with a personal note addressed to the contact and where possible, say who has referred you.  Make sure you include a link to your website or Linkedin profile.


6.  Get yourself endorsed.


If you’ve not already done so, start gathering endorsements and recommendations from former bosses, colleagues, customers, suppliers, professional network colleagues and so on.  Include these in your CV and online profile (you can see some on my Linkedin page for an example).


And have I taken my own advice?  You bet.  See the investment I have made in my brand new website at


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