Friday, May 08, 2009


Even while there are signs the economy is improving, the job market is anticipated to be among the last to rebound. That means continued job hemorrhaging is likely in the months ahead. As companies of all sizes look for ways to cut costs but cutting people, I look to Survivor (as I so often do) for some tips to avoid the chopping block.

Here are the Top 10 Survivor tips for surviving the recession:

10.) MAKE FRIENDS – Nobody likes the grumpy guy who complains about everything and never goes out drinking with the crew. If you’re bad for morale, you’re an easy cut. Play nice with others and you’ll make it to the final nine.

9.) CATCH FISH OR MAKE FIRE – Be valuable. Even the most adored contestants wear their welcomes thin by lazing about. In business as in Survivor, your special skills will get you every bit as far, if not farther, than your personality.

8.) WIN CHALLENGES – If you want layoff immunity, you’re going to have to fight for it and there are plenty of everyday workplace challenges that will give you an opportunity to shine. Be the first one in every morning. Fill up the paper tray. Run that presentation to Kinko’s at the 11th hour. If someone’s going home, it won’t be you.

7.) FLY UNDER THE RADAR – Use discretion. Don’t leave your resume laying on the photocopier. Stop humming obscure showtunes in your cube. Log out of your Facebook account when you break for lunch so people don’t see that you’re “hardly working again – I love my job.” Shower. The obnoxious players who stick out as oddballs or anti-establishment are always among the first to get the boot.

6.) FORM AN ALLIANCE – Stay close to the office untouchables to become untouchable yourself. Buddy up at lunch. Carpool. Walk to the train. Get to know and trust key people and you’ll have extra ears and eyes to alert you when the whispering begins. You’ll also have advocates and allies to defend your reputation at senior leadership's tribal council.

5.) KNOW THE PLAN – How many times have we seen the Survivor folks smugly strutting about camp just hours before getting the axe? They feel safe and invincible in their naïveté, but the fact is if you don’t know what the plan is, you’re probably not part of it. Get involved, stay active, and don’t take your position for granted.

4.) LEAD AND FOLLOW – Strike a balance between teamwork and leadership. It’s good to follow direction, but order-takers are easily replaced. You need to show initiative, too. Step up your efforts and prove your ideas have merit. Just don’t come on too strong because nobody likes a bossy barker. Congratulations – you just made top 3.

3.) SHARE YOUR REWARDS – Generosity can take you a long way – in Survivor and in life. You definitely want people saying nice things about you behind your back. When you receive credit or praise for a job well done, make sure to acknowledge the support of your co-workers, and the expert guidance of your superiors.

2.) HUMILITY OVER HUBRIS – If you’re among the fortunate few to make it to the end, there’s one final hurdle to clear: your peers. Remember all those coworkers you lied to, misled, and stabbed in the back to keep your job? Don’t brag about how smart you are for outlasting them all. Acknowledge their misfortune, be sympathetic to their plight, and win them over with your character. You’ll gain votes of confidence from these people for life.

1.) THE GAME EVENTUALLY ENDS – This is important to keep in mind wherever you go and whatever you do. Some people feel like it’s the end of the world when they hear those dreaded words: “Corporate has spoken…it’s time to go home. Grab your stuff.” But NOTHING is permanent in today’s business world. The marketplace is in constant flux, so if you’re not the sole survivor this time, take your experience down the street and apply to be on the Apprentice.