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Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Alpha female: How not to lose your job in 2008

Work hard, network hard, and don’t complain about your bonus.

Happy New Year! It’s 2008 and hopefully we can put all of the turmoil of 2007 behind us. Or can we? Although many have made it through the redundancy rounds unscathed, the business environment and recruiting situation in 2008 could also be tricky. So what can you do to make sure that you don’t lose your job in 2008?

Work hard and do a good job. If you are in a revenue generating area, generate revenue. This should go without saying, but sometimes people feel that they have made it through the bad period and can now relax. Don’t relax. The 2008 business environment is far from certain and if you aren’t performing well you are giving the firm an easy excuse to get rid of you.

Be seen to be doing a good job. It isn’t enough just to sit at your desk and do a good job – you need to make management aware of what you are doing. This may mean that you end up working harder since you have to do your normal job and you have to publicise your success. You’ll have to figure out how best to do this in your working environment without alienating those that you work with or annoying your boss.

Be a team player. If you are a 'star' performer with the revenue to back up your position, but are difficult to work with, you are still probably safe. But, if you are in the majority and are a 'normal' performer, you may need all the friends you can get when times get tough. Being a good corporate citizen should mean that you are favoured if it comes to that close decision. And it makes for a nicer working environment.

Don’t complain about your 2007 bonus. Senior management has had a horrible time during the autumn of 2007 – first they had to figure out whom to fire and then they had to figure out how much (or how little) to pay the remaining staff. At many firms (ex GS) the bonus pools probably shrank during the decision process, so they had to figure out whose bonus to cut even further. The last thing that they want to hear from you is that you are unhappy. From their perspective, you have a job, you might have gotten somewhat of a bonus, and you should be grateful. Keep in mind your boss probably didn’t get that much of a bonus either.

Network, both internally and externally. Building a network of people around you who know who you are and what you do should be part of your job. It is surprising what you can learn and how much business can get done through informal channels. It isn’t a waste of time to network, but again may mean that you have to work harder since it is an 'extra' thing to do. Think of it not only as benefiting your current job but also as an insurance policy – if you do get let go, you’ll already have a network in place to start looking for your next job.

Anneke de Boer is a former managing director of Morgan Stanley’s fixed income business in London. She retired in 2006.

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