STRATEGIES: Experts say you can make yourself more valuable to your employer or look to better your position elsewhere. By Eileen Alt Powell THE ASSOCIATED PRESS NEW YORK – In the fall, many companies take stock of how they’re doing on projects, sales targets and budgets; if the numbers aren’t agreeable, it could mean job cuts. Workers may want to adopt strategies ahead of time, either to try to save their jobs or be prepared to find new ones. Studies by Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., an outplacement firm based in Chicago, have found there are more layoffs in the September-December period than any other time of the year. “Employers adjust staffing when they see how current-year projects have gone, and they adjust staffing in advance of next year’s budget,” said John A. Challenger, the firm’s CEO. “That means a worker has to be on his or her toes, especially if they’re seeing layoffs in other parts of their industry.” Another sign could be a boss who suddenly becomes more distant, Challenger said. Or a worker is passed over when it comes time to staff teams he or she was part of in the past. “If the boss has been told to cut 10 percent of staff, he probably wants some distance while he thinks it through,” Challenger said. Whether a worker tries to stay or jump ship, he or she should work at building bridges inside and outside the company. “This is not a time to hide under your desk,” Challenger said. “Make sure you have relationships in good shape up and down the company, that you have support, especially from the boss. … You want your defenders.” Meanwhile, start networking with professional organizations, community groups, alumni associations and the like, he said. “Take 10 percent of your time … to be more engaged in building relationships outside of work, because you may need them,” he said. Deborah DeCamp, regional director for Manpower Professional, a division of the Manpower Inc. employment service company in Milwaukee, suggests workers keep their resumes updated at all times – not just when a job situation looks shaky. “You don’t want to update it in a panic,” she said. “If you update it regularly, you won’t forget major projects, and it will better reflect the kind of person you are.” For those who want to try to stay with their current employers, she suggests steps to become more valuable. “Any opportunity you have to cross-train or work with other departments through a project is a good thing,” DeCamp said. That’s because the trend in recent years has been for companies to retain multiskilled people, for example a human resources manager who also can handle benefits. “Getting involved in projects where you draw expertise from several departments gives you the opportunity to gather more experience and it gives you a bigger picture, not only within your company but possibly within the industry,” DeCamp said. Workers who want to test the job market but don’t want word to get back to their current employers should probably avoid posting their resumes online. “Anytime you have your resume posted and your supervisor finds out, you’re going to have to explain yourself,” she said. A better strategy would be doing some research into a company that interests you and approach the hiring manager for a confidential chat, she said. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!