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The 36-Hour Day

with Lylah M. Alphonse

I'm a full-time editor, a part-time writer, and a mom and stepmom to five amazing kids, ages 1 to 14. For me it's not about finding balance, it's about the daily juggle-- my career, my commute, freelance work, homework, housework, married life, social life, and parenting-- and finding the time to get it all done.

To learn more about Lylah, check out her Work It, Mom! profile and read her blog at

How to make yourself more valuable as an employee

Categories: Career, Working? Living?, do more with less


My company is talking layoffs, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t stressed out about it. Who stays and who goes may come down to things we can’t control — seniority, for instance, or full-time vs. part-time status, or the number of people in a given job category. But there are a few variables that can be controlled, and they can make a big difference in how valuable you are as an employee: Dedication, visibility, and special skills.

Here are five tips for keeping up with the things you can still control.

1.) Designate one day per week when you will come in early. Get there before the boss does; if you can manage it, get there before everyone else does, too. It doesn’t have to be the same day each week, and it doesn’t have to be by much, but that little extra bit of facetime can go a long way toward keeping you on the office radar and reminding people that you are, indeed, dedicated to the company.

2.) Designate one day per week when you will stay late. Later than your boss, later than everyone else, if you can, for the same reason stated above. Facetime, facetime, facetime.

3.) Look busy. A New York Times article about looking busy struck a chord with me, not because I’m lacking in things to do around the office, but because I hadn’t thought about it before. I work at a computer — I’d have to try hard not to look busy — but if you’re not at a desk job, then make sure you look like you have plenty to do, even if that means refolding the shirt display eleventy billion times a week.

4.) Be busy. Take on extra work if you can. I’ve noticed that, over the past few months, my mindset has changed from “They don’t pay me enough to deal with that” to “Well, they pay me.” A friend of mine whose husband was just laid off explained it this way: We’ve gone from a sense of entitlement — not “I deserve a bonus because I’m great” but “I’ve worked here for 15 years, I ought to be able to work part time if I need to” — to having to buckle down and compete with everyone all over again. Your company is going to want to wring every last bit of effort out of you in exchange for that paycheck; it’s a lot more palatable if you beat them to it.

5.) Expand your skill set. Think of it this way: If you were just entering the workforce, you’d consider an unpaid internship, right, just to get the experience? Try to choose something you haven’t done often before and, when the project is complete, add it to your resume, and show your boss that you have skills above and beyond the ones they hired you for.

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2 comments so far...

  • Great tips. Other things include:
    * VOLUNTEER for work, yeah, it means a lot
    * Suggest ways to improve productivity of your department
    * Make sure your boss KNOWS what you are doing . . . stop by and ask questions that also include references to what projects you have
    * Have a positive attitude . . . always be available to help out

    I could go on and on about what makes me think highly of the great people who work for me. Any tips for how a boss should keep her job?

    Elaine at Lipstickdaily  |  March 22nd, 2009 at 12:14 pm

  • Great post!

    Kate @  |  March 22nd, 2009 at 10:52 pm

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