How to avoid the axe

Over the years, I have seen numerous colleagues being made redundant. Some of them were inevitable (luxurious roles), but I believe for others the story might be different if they were acting differently in the way they work.

Here are a couple of things/advice that I have compiled based on working experience:

  • Analyze yourselves, your role and your company - be prepared. Is your employer facing a period of hardship? Is your role a "luxury" role to the company (eg: marketing, testing)? Is your role can easily being transferred to the other people in the organization (pure front end developer)? If the answer is yes, then you should always be prepared, do not be caught off guard thinking that you are safe, even if you have worked for the company for years.
  • Don’t be a specialist full stop. Be a specialist generalist - this the suggestion that my manager gives us, in his experience in rounds of redundancy, the specialists go first. Pure front end developer, I think falls in this category of specialist. My advice is,  don’t pigeon hole yourselves as "front end developer", "ColdFusion developer" or whatever. If you are front end developer, don’t just settle with HTML and CSS, learn Javascript and Javascript libraries well, learn other front end technologies like Flash and Silverlight, heck learn a little bit about back end and database. If you are a back end developer, there is no excuse, you have to know front end technologies, the HTML, CSS, Javascript trinity. In a period of hardship, your employer will look for people who can fill multiple roles, can you and would you?
  • What do you do in your spare time? It pissed me off seeing my tester colleague playing minesweeper when he has no work. He could’ve been learning and researching and making recommendation as to how to improve software testing, he could’ve researching Selenium, mind you his test script was a huge Excel Spreadsheet - I feel asleep going through them. How about outside work, what do you do to improve your knowledge and skill sets? Do you read blogs related to your role? Do you read books? Do you take certifications? Do you take proactive steps to ever improving your skills and therefore your contribution to the company?
  • Sell yourselves to the company. Be proactive, contribute to your company blog, give recommendations, voice your concerns (I know I am terrible at this), organize team lunches, get to know your manager, your CEO, your colleagues, tweet about your company (the good bits only please), help market your employer.
What do you think? Any other things you can do to make yourselves indispensable to your employer?