Skills to help you avoid being laid off

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Both Allianz Global Assistance and DuPont just laid off many local workers last week. The fear of layoffs has workers in every industry asking how they can become more valuable to their employers to avoid being downsized. We sought advice from an expert on how to help protect your position.

First an update on the recent layoffs.

Allianz Global Assistance in Henrico laid off about 100 workers in customer service last Friday. An Allianz spokesperson says attrition and moving workers to other positions reduced that number from the original projection of 150, and they hope to place more workers in other jobs within the company. Allianz says it lost a client, but is still growing in travel insurance, and moving into the former Circuit City building this month. The company is looking for a tenant to rent the 3rd floor of the five story building.

Meantime, the DuPont Spruance Plant in Chesterfield is cutting 64 workers as part of a plan the company hopes will increase productivity and growth.

If you fear the company you work for could lay you off, here are some steps that may help you keep your job. Sophie Williams helps people who've been laid off find new jobs. She's the Director of Career Development Services at Goodwill. Williams says if your employer may cut workers, try to become a more valuable employee.

First, she suggests cross-training: learning other skills that your company needs. Explained Williams, "Often times, the individual that's cross-trained is the one that's last fired because the employer knows they can use that person in several different positions."

You can even ask your supervisor what skills would be helpful for you to learn.

Second, Williams says brush up skills that make you a better employee. "Learn how to interact with others, learn how to communicate orally and written communication, learn how to be a problem solver, not a problem creator."

Third, she says, talk up your successful projects. "You are your own entrepreneur, selling yourself in that position. Network within the workplace, know who you need to be talking to," Williams suggests.

Goodwill Community Employment Centers offer free workshops to help make you a valuable employee or to find a new job. Click here for a calendar of their workshops.