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The Los Angeles Police motto is "To Protect And Serve." I have always admired that image and thought how it might apply to individual careers. We all want to protect our jobs and maybe the best means of protection is service. Going the extra mile in service to your employer is for your long-term benefits. Try the following tips to protect your job. These are only suggestions and cannot guarantee success or security.

Make "flexibility" your middle name. When you are the person who will bend over backwards to fix a problem, you are a more valuable employee to upper management. You must strive to be well liked. The saying, "It’s not what you know, but who you know" applies more than ever in a very tight job market as companies continue to downsize. A good sense of humor and the ability not to sweat the small stuff increases your value. Don’t get stuck on being right. Take it easy! When you have an ego investment in your decision you can become rigid. Being rigid is a weakness. Be ready to compromise. Build an internal network of supporters that will affirm your value when it’s crunch time.

"Absence makes the heart grow fonder" does not apply to the business world. You must be seen and involved every day. Reevaluate your vacation plans if you feel your job is in jeopardy. Taking a vacation in the middle of a company restructure could be the kiss of death. Your vacation may be well deserved and prepaid, but survival is more important than your vacation plans. Telecommuting may cause your boss to think you can be easily dismissed. Offer giving up your telecommute to show your boss you are serious about your job responsibilities. "Out of sight, out of mind" may apply when considering who is laid off.

Find out why people are being retained. Did education play a major part in the decision? If so, you need to get the same certificate/degree. Make it public knowledge that you will earn that certain certificate/degree. Make it known that you are working on yourself.

Become the problem solver and peacemaker. Go the extra mile. The go-to person gets the job done, no matter what. Projects big and small are completed on time or early. Watch your boss’s face when you are given an assignment "No problem. Consider it done." Building trust and dependability is the ultimate job security. Your boss will remember being able to relax knowing the job will be completed on time.

I can walk into any bank and pick out the next manager from the tellers by how they are groomed and dressed. Reassess your business casual attitude. Upgrade your image. Kick it up a notch with some new clothes that convey a professional image. Set regular appointments for your haircut or styling.

Become an information sponge. Ingest everything possible! I don’t mean looking like Sponge Bob. Understand all the jobs in your department. Listen and learn what problems need fixing. Learn skills that are not part of your job description. Never say, "That’s not my job." Rather, you should realize the security value of cross-functional skills.

Create a record of all the projects you have completed. Document everything! List the money you have saved the company. List the people you’ve trained. List everything of possible value! These facts will be invaluable in the future, whether negotiating your next pay raise or working to retain your job.

If you are unhappy, do not discuss it with anyone. If you are updating your resume, keep that confidential as well. Do not participate in any gossip. Everyone should conclude you are a true-blue employee. Again, do not share your discontent, even with your closest company friend or mentor. Trust no one! Do not openly criticize your company, peers or bosses. If your company thinks you are restless or looking for a new job, you will be the first to go.

So, what do you do if, despite your best efforts, you are still terminated. Understand, first and foremost, that you must move forward. In his wonderful book, The Road Less Traveled, the author, Scott Peck, proclaims "Life is difficult." It is a great truth because once we see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult-once we truly understand and accept it-then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.

RECAP: Understand that your primary responsibility is to protect your job. Focus on improving your contribution. Add skills, update your education and personal appearance. Document your accomplishments for internal or external job search use. In the end, if your are terminated, accepting the concept that "life’s not fair" will help you deal with your situation and move forward.

WEBSITE REVIEW: www.workaholics-anonymous.org
I like this Web site. The pages are basic black and white with no frills. The best part is the self-test of "How do I know if I’m a workaholic". The questions alone will get you thinking about balancing your life style. There are links to nineteen states with local meeting locations if you decide you want to join one of their groups.

Dear Headhunter,
Some employers request a salary history. What is your take on that? It seems to stifle any attempt to negotiate a greater offer. I really don’t want anyone to know what I made in the past.
Please Help! Ron

Dear Ron,
Your question is one of the most popular e-mails I receive. Companies will not interview you unless they know if your income fits their salary range for the job opening. You will see classified ads that state "Resumes will not be considered without salary history attached." Many times, prior to a job offer, companies may want to see paycheck stubs or a W-2 to verify your income. When headhunters send a resume to a client and the client likes the resume, the client’s first question is "What is their compensation?" If the headhunter doesn’t know the compensation, the candidate will not be interviewed. My advice is to be honest about your income because you may be asked to verify it prior to receiving a job offer. If you have falsified your income, there will be no job offer. No negotiating! Game over!
Good luck on your search!

PLEASE NOTE: emails received become the property of "Dear Headhunter" and may be published unless otherwise requested. Questions may be edited for content and length. All questions will be reviewed, some without a reply.

George Gurney has been a leader in the employment industry since 1976. He founded an executive search firm that conducts domestic and international assignments.  He has won numerous awards for recruiting excellence.  He has been a guest speaker at national conventions and seminars.