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How to survive when banks are making job cuts

investment banking job cuts

Your firm just made a round of job cuts, but luckily you weren’t one of them. While you’re relieved to still have your job, you feel unsettled. The business is restructuring, and additional staff cuts are likely down the road. Can you avoid the second round?

It’s natural for financial services professionals to be concerned about their job security, particularly as banks go through another period of restructuring.

However, even when your company undergoes a major transition, there are aspects of your situation you can control. Here are tips for adapting.

1. Don’t stick your head in the sand

When rumours of restructuring begin to swirl, some people choose to lay low. They hope they will be spared if they just keep their head down, work hard and don’t rock the boat. But the reality is you can’t hide from change.

Instead, make a point to communicate frequently with your manager. Ask questions, seek answers, and avoid speculation and gossip. The more accurate information you can gather, and the more engaged you are throughout this period of transition, the better impression you make on management and the better you can prepare for whatever’s next – good or bad.

2. Stay motivated and productive

Restructuring is disruptive, but you can’t let it undermine your performance. While you may be concerned that you’ll be included in a future round of layoffs, until then you are still an employee of the organization. Don’t risk damaging your professional reputation by letting work slide.

Challenge yourself: Try to move projects along faster, increase your focus on delivering high-quality work and support your colleagues as much as you can.

If you are laid off, then you’ll at least have the satisfaction of knowing you were professional. This can help you secure positive references from your manager and co-workers in the future.

And if you aren’t laid off, you may have helped to position yourself for long-term success at the firm.

Find additional ways to contribute as well. Operating with a leaner staff will result in lower overall productivity and skills gaps across your institution. Pitch in where you can, lending your expertise to different projects, even if it falls outside your normal job description. In the process, you’ll showcase your skills, build new ones and increase your value to the business.

3. Show how you have created value

Hiring managers frequently ask job candidates to describe how they contributed to improving a previous employer’s bottom line. Now, as you face the prospect of entering the job market, quantify how you have added value to your firm. For example, did you identify ways your institution could reduce costs? Did you play a direct role in bringing in new business?

Being able to clearly explain how you’ve helped the organization control costs, generate revenue or improve operations, particularly during a transition period, will show that you are a valuable employee. Meet with your boss to discuss your performance. Tell him or her you felt it was important during this time of change and uncertainty to emphasize how you believe you have made a difference at the firm.

There is no harm in singing your own praises – but there is risk in sitting idly by.

4. Be flexible

Even if you don’t lose your job, you will still feel the impact of layoffs. Your office environment will be forever changed. And frankly, the vibe in the workplace might be negative for a while.

Your mission now is to adapt. All of this advice – meet change head on, keep communication lines open, stay productive and demonstrate value – still applies after your organization has completed its restructuring.

You’ll also want to heighten and highlight your value as a colleague. Your co-workers are experiencing similar emotions while facing the same challenges as you. Show you are a leader by empathizing with their feelings while rallying them to perform at a high level.

Facing an environment where layoffs are occurring is difficult for all professionals, but to succeed you’ll need to be an outstanding employee and coworker. These strategies can help you transition successfully to the new status quo, turn the page on a painful restructuring and start a new chapter at your firm.

Tim Hird is the executive director of Robert Half Management Resources, a financial staffing and interim management firm providing senior-level accounting, finance and business-systems professionals.

Tim Hird of Robert Half

Tim Hird of Robert Half

Image: AndreyPopov/iStock/Thinkstock

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