Robert Half Japan
Managing Director

David Price

As Managing Director of Robert Half Japan Ltd., the Japanese subsidiary of Robert Half
International (RHI), David Price is responsible for overseeing the recruiting operations of the company’s specialized staffing and recruitment divisions in Japan.
A graduate of the University of Texas, U.S.A,. Mr. Price has more than nine years of accounting and finance recruitment experience in Japan, having worked for both local and global recruitment firms in Tokyo.
In 2005, he joined RHI to help launch the company’s staffing business in Japan.


In previous installments, we wrote about the job market in Japan, and then we explored the kinds of questions you can ask yourself to help you decide if you should stay in the United States or return to Japan. Now for our final column, let’s have a frank discussion about something near and dear to you: your job.

Looking around I’m sure you’ve noticed that companies have been downsizing, restructuring, streamlining, cost-cutting, retrenching—basically all euphemisms for workforce reductions. Should you be concerned about your job, too?

For those of you working in the U.S., it’s a good idea to take an analytical approach to your current situation and try to determine how concerned you should be. Robert Half has identified six warning signs that your job may be in jeopardy, clear signals that you can easily identify. Applying these indicators to yourself and your company could help you decide if you should spring into action (note that these points apply to the U.S. market; workers in Japan may face a different set of warning signs):

1. Cost-cutting measures are being implemented throughout the organization. The email announcing the need to reduce costs could be a tip-off that your employer is also considering cuts in staffing costs. But remember, almost all companies are belt-tightening at the moment, so this is not conclusive evidence that your job is in danger.

2. Your workload is lighter than usual or projects are being reassigned to others. This is a strong signal that there is not enough work to justify the number of employees, or that the company is redistributing the workload in anticipation of staff cuts.

3. Your work is cyclical in nature and you have significant periods of slow time. Not having enough work to do is a sign that your function is not as vital as it once was. Companies that are looking to trim staff expenses often focus on departments or positions with a cyclical workload, where the day-to-day tasks could be supported by fewer employees.

4. Your position or department is not viewed as a revenue generator. It is useful to understand how management sees your department – does it directly bring money into the organization, or help to reduce expenses? If the answer is “yes”, you may be in a fairly safe position. If your department is viewed more as a “nice to have” than a “need to have” you could be on shakier ground.

5. You are no longer included in meetings you used to participate in. When a company is preparing to cut jobs, it is unlikely to include those at risk in strategy sessions. If you are no longer being asked to plan for the future, it may be because you are not seen as having one.

6. Your manager is showing increased interest in the status of your projects and how to complete them. This could indicate that your boss wants to get a better sense of how things are done and what still needs attention so that he or she can reassign these projects in the event of layoffs.

You may think that one or even two of these signs apply to nearly everyone you know, including yourself, but don’t panic: the signs are meant to be cumulative—the more boxes you can tick off, the worse your situation. If your firm is cutting costs (#1) you may have no need to worry, but if your workload is lighter (#2) and you’re far away from revenue generation (#4), for example, it ‘s probably a good idea to start planning for some bad news.

Even if you think the writing’s on the wall, there are still steps you can take to either save your job or give yourself a soft landing:

· Do not become so consumed with worry that your work suffers. It is important to maintain your focus. Continue to deliver high-quality work over and above expectations to remind your manager that you really are worth every cent you are paid (and more) and the company would be foolish to let you go.

· Make sure your manager knows about your contributions. There is no point in being a star performer if no one knows about it – now, more than ever before, you need to enhance your visibility on the job. Make sure your contributions are in line with the company’s business goals and talk with your manager about how you can contribute more.

· Enhance your value-add to the business. Actively seek out new business deals for your company, or volunteer to participate in new projects. Your enhanced revenue-yielding capability and profitability will boost your status as an asset that the company needs to retain.

· Try to stay positive. A negative attitude will only work against you – people prefer to be surrounded by cheerful, optimistic colleagues, even more so when times are tough.

If you’re still worried that there’s a real possibility that you will lose your job, it’s important to prepare yourself for re-entering the job market. Leaving the question of whether you choose to remain in the U.S. or move back to Japan aside (see our last Worldcareer column, “Should I stay or should I go?”, for help with that issue), here is a brief checklist of actions you can take right away:

· Update your resume. In good times, keeping an up-to-date resume is a good practice. In tough times, it’s a necessity.

· Network actively. Target professional organizations and support groups whose members can either help you find a new role or point you in the right direction.

· Look for ways to save money. In our first Worldcareer column (“What does the financial crisis mean to your job search?”) we pointed out that you might be in for a very long job search. Make sure you’re financially ready.

· Reinforce your bridges. Continue to act professionally and do a good job at work. Make sure those bridges stay in tact and are even stronger than before—in the event you lose your job, you’ll be remembered for grace and dignity and you may be asked to return when the economy turns around.

· Improve your marketability. Take classes or volunteer for activities that enhance your skills.

· Get reacquainted with Japan. Talk with friends and family in Japan, or speak with a recruiter you trust, to get a feel for the Japanese job market.

No matter what happens, it’s important for you to maintain as much control of your situation as possible. Knowing the signs that your job may be in jeopardy can help you maintain that control by eliminating the mystery or anxiety that often results in paralysis. If you know what may be ahead, you can plan for every contingency, including the real possibility that you’ll keep your job and weather the crisis. Remember, doing something is always better than doing nothing when it comes to your career.

Robert Half International ジャパンデスク
Tel: +1-925-598-5676

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