Keep Your Job: What Employed Students Need to Know and Do

When ‘keeping their jobs’ is a critical necessity for financially strapped college students with part-time, co-op and summer jobs, there are things they can do to improve their chances for continued employment. Working students who are concerned about their job stability should:

1. Get a good grasp on the basics of their jobs.

a. Understand exactly ‘what’ has to be done and ‘how’ to do it

b. Identify the people they serve: Supervisors, Internal & External Customers

c. Become an expert in the technical and most difficult aspects of their jobs

d. Strive to improve their relationship with co-workers and customers

e. Learn what their customers want and how they want it

f. Learn the job-ending No-No’s that must be avoided

g. Identify the people above them with the most influence over their future

h. Be willing to make some sacrifices for their employers

I. Understand their Supervisor’s needs, wants, quirks and hot buttons

j. Make everyone around them look good

2. Do the job to the best of their ability (Be an asset to the employer)

a. Meet or exceed quality requirements

b. Meet or exceed the amount or volume expected

c. Meet or exceed the level of service customers need and expect

d. Anticipate problems and suggest fixes or ways to prevent them

e. Communicate effectively. Keep people informed. Warn them of problems

f. Adhere to time and on-time requirements

g. Maintain a positive, willing to try attitude

h. Help others when they need it

I. Enhance the employer’s image and reputation

3. To impress others with their work ethic and desire to contribute, employed students should ask these questions, when appropriate.

a. What’s next?

b. What more can I do?

c. How can I help?

d. How can I do this aspect of the job better?

e. How can I better serve my customers?

f. How can I learn more about that?

g. Who has the information I need?

4. Serve their Internal and External Customers

a. Identify their primary and secondary customers

b. Learn each customer’s preferences, needs, wants and expectations

c. Learn each customer’s idiosyncrasies

d. Give customers more, better, faster, when and where they want it

5. Generate ideas for:

a. Improving product and service quality and speed

b. New products and services

c. Attracting new customers

d. Improving profit margins

e. Increasing sales

6. Build good relationships with other employees and other departments.

a. Exchange pleasantries with everyone. Be friendly and smile

b. Listen to and learn from the best employees

c. Be there when others need help

d. Be willing to share information

e. Offer encouragement

f. Learn who can be trusted and who can’t

7. Accept the fact that there are things beyond personal control.

a. Regardless of job performance and likability, bad things

sometimes happen to employees, through no fault of their own

b. Create a back-up plan that can be implemented if something

happens to their employment stability

8. The back-up plan for finding another job should include these actions:

a. Obtain written references and recommendations from the most

impressive people they have worked with

b. Ask these same people for ideas, suggestions and contacts that

may help them obtain useful job hunting information

c. Visit the Career Services Office

d. Speak with Professors to see if they have contacts and suggestions

e. Update their résumé – Emphasize contributions, accomplishments,

successes and areas of exceptional performance

f. Identify and contact every employer that is of interest

g. Identify and participate in Professional Associations and Local

Business Organizations

h. Make a list of potential networking contacts. Use their Network to

identify employment opportunities and additional contacts.

I. Develop a few positive, work-related examples and stories that can be

used during networking meetings and interviews

j. Create and follow a script when speaking to Network contacts

k. Be flexible regarding the new job they accept. In tough times, jobs are few

Recognize that employed students should be performing well before things drastically sour for their current employers. They must do everything they can to be an employee their employer wants to keep. Exceptional job performance will sometimes positively affect the hard decisions that distressed employers may be required to make. However, when keeping the current job is not possible or does not look to be possible, wise students take the early steps that will put them in the best position to obtain another job.