Job Security Is Disappearing -- What Does It Mean For You?
When I was a kid, the adults around me would get a job and keep the job for ten or twenty years. It was very unusual for someone to change jobs. Then corporations started shedding layers of management. Jobs started to move offshore, and outsourcing became popular. When I entered the working world it was still common to keep the same job for decades, but even when you didn't hold a job that long you could expect to stay employed for three to five years. Things kept changing. More and more people would take a job with the hope and expectation of staying in the job for awhile, but then somebody in a conference room many time zones away would make a decision and the job would disappear. It became commonplace to take a job, learn the job and then have the rug pulled out from under you.
Now, we never know how long a new job is going to last. These days it is hard to find a working person who hasn't been laid off at least once. Some people have been laid off five or ten times. It is no longer unusual to be told "We're eliminating your department" or "We're getting rid of your position." Back when layoffs were more unusual than they are now, you would get a financial cushion if your job went away. You might get four or six months of severance pay. That is unheard-of now. If you get laid off these days, you're lucky to get four to six weeks of severance. We have to run our careers differently now. We are all entrepreneurs in the new-millennium workplace, even when we work for other people.
It doesn't matter whether you work for a corporation, a startup company, a government agency, a not-for-profit organization or any other entity. You still have to run your career like a business. Your career is a business! It's your business to run. You are the CEO.
Here are ten things we need to think about and do differently now that we never had to think about before — back in the days when we took our job security for granted.
1. You have to know how your work makes a financial impact on your employer. If you don't know how your work directly affects an organization's bottom line, you are at great risk. If your work is a "nice-to-have" function but not an essential one, your job could disappear — and then what would you do?
2. You have to know what people get paid in your line of work — not just the people in your organization, but other people who do similar work in other companies. You have to stay on top of salary surveys.
3. You also have to know what contractors and consultants charge their clients to perform the same kind of work you perform — and which skill sets are becoming more popular and sought-after over time.
4. You have to be ready and willing to take either a full-time job or a contract or consulting gig. If you restrict yourself to full-time jobs with benefits, you are putting yourself at an enormous disadvantage! When you make yourself available for consulting work as well as full-time gigs, you expand your income-generating potential tremendously. When you work for yourself, you'll have to pay your own medical premiums and that's a pain — but it's far better than searching fruitlessly for work for months or years!
5. You have to brand yourself for the specific jobs and consulting assignments you want. You can't brand yourself the old-fashioned way, saying "I'm a multi-skilled Business Professional with a bottom-line orientation." What does that even mean? No manager has pain around their shortage of multi-skilled Business Professionals. They have Marketing pain, R & D pain, Finance pain or some other kind of specific, tangible pain that you might be able to relieve
6. You have to keep your network alive and active. The worst thing you can do is to fall asleep on your career. We fall asleep very easily when we find a stable job. These days, you have to know a lot of people who know what you do and who can be eyes and ears for you when you need work. You can do the same thing for them!
7. You have to know which employers in your geographical area could employ you if your current job goes away. Many people stop paying attention to the local business ecosystem the minute they get a job. They forget to look around and see what other companies in their region might be able to use their talents if their current employer no longer needs them.
8. You have to have an up-to-date and powerful LinkedIn profile. The more your credibility can shine through your online presence, the better!
9. You have to be aware of your thought leadership flame, even if you don't consider yourself a writer, a speaker or an "idea" person. You still have to stay up to date with advances in your industry and/or function, and form your own opinions about what works and what doesn't. No one is going to hire you just because you have 20 years of experience. They are going to hire you because they like the way you think. That means you have to think!
10. Finally, you have to keep an ear to the ground whether you are consulting, contracting or working in a full-time job. You can never assume that just because you are working now, your job is secure. It's not!
All of us are stepping into the entrepreneurial 21st-century working world together. Staying busy in this new-millennium workplace requires new muscles.
You won't grow those muscles all at once, but you'll start growing them little by little the minute you take responsibility for your career!