Layoffs Are Coming: Look Busy!

Devising fake projects to make yourself busy is one way to possibly save your job. But there are better uses for that energy.

Last week the New York Times featured an article (“Working Hard To Look Busy”) that explored the crafty ways workers are trying to convince others that they have lots of work to do.


The tactics are funny: refiling papers from 1980, sending yourself emails at work, or faking business phone calls. But the reality of not having enough work to do is not. It’s excruciating.

The article notes, however, that very few of these schemes results in people keeping their jobs.  So instead of loitering on eBay looking busy, why not look for another job?

Let me be clear: I’m NOT condoning the use of company time and resources for any personal activities.  You could be fired for surfing job sites just as easily as browsing for dates on or chatting with Facebook friends.

But if you’re not going to try industrious pursuits to make yourself more valuable (and possibly save your job — see previous post), such as finding ways to make your employer more money or save money, at least the risk of job-hunting on the sly might have an upside.

Searching for work while you’re already working is tricky, but it’s also wise. I’ve heard HR people say that candidates who are currently employed often have an advantage over the unemployed.  And in this economy, you need every advantage you can get.

But this is where the “wise” part comes in — you have to be very careful how you proceed. In fact, you should NEVER send a resume or email a recruiter from your work email program.  Employers can also monitor and track what’s on your computer screen, so know that you surf at your own risk when looking at job sites during work.


Instead, use lunch hours and breaks to better effect, with a personal cell phone off premises, if possible.

The article “Be a Stealthy Job-Hunter” offers 8 great tips for successfully navigating this risky terrain.

Even just planning your exit strategy could pass the time faster than faux filing projects.