In these difficult times it's natural for people to worry that their jobs might be at risk, writes Jeremy I'Anson, director at HR consultancy xlSys Consulting.
If you are working in the City or the financial services sector you may feel it is almost inevitable that your employer will be making cutbacks. One senior IT recruiter, who did not want to be named, commented, "Although the City is the worst affected, recruitment across all sectors is well down on this time last year."
So what can you do to ensure that your name doesn't finish up on a list of employees marked for redundancy?
If you work in IT services or for one of the big consultancies then the first thing to look at is your utilisation - the number of days that you are fee earning for your company. You probably can't control this directly, but if you often find yourself "on the bench" then think carefully about how this might be viewed by your managers.
Equally, if you are working in a company IT department and find that your projects are being cancelled or cut back, then your job could well be under threat. How does the future look for your company? Have you just won (or lost) a major project? Most importantly, how do you think your manager views your contribution to the business?
If you conclude that your job could be at risk then you have a number of options. You could simply sharpen up your CV and place it on some of the IT job boards or you could start looking for another, more secure job immediately. Depending on your personal circumstances, you might also consider working abroad. Remember that despite the economic downturn here in the UK, in other parts of the world (ie, the Middle East) business is booming, with any number of great opportunities available in IT.
If you prefer to stay with your current employer then my advice would be to "make yourself useful". Use any downtime that you have to learn a new skill. Analyse your own skill set. Are there any areas that could be improved? You could use any spare time to upgrade your IT skills, get that Prince 2 Practitioner Certification or maybe attend a Presentation Skills Course (remember, strong communication skills are the passport to more senior positions in IT).
If you are confident that your skills are already up to scratch, then consider passing on your experience to your less experienced colleagues. How about setting up informal lunch time workshops? Got a better way to run a project or deal with a problem? Pass it on.
In the modern work environment success is as much about team contribution as individual skills and effort.
Demonstrating you have the ability to help your company develop and respond to new challenges will give you the edge over your peers in difficult times as well as the good.
So the message is clear: if you want to hang onto your job, go that extra mile and make yourself indispensable.