With job security a thing of the past, what can you do to set yourself up for success?
What’s your biggest fear when it comes to potentially losing your job? A month (or more) with no income, right?
You don’t want to be late on your rent or bills, and you might even have a family to support. That’s why job security was a big deal for you.
Yes—it’s gone. No need to pretend otherwise.
So, what can you do to help yourself feel secure when there’s no longer job security? Here are a few ideas:
Restate Your Goal
Your true goal is no longer job security; it’s income security. You still want to be on time with your bills and commitments (including student loans). That requires an income you can count on.
Job security was the old income security.
There’s a difference, and it’s not just semantics. Job security focuses on “them,” the job provider. Income security focuses on you. You can’t control them, but you can control you—and what you do.
That’s why you’re restating your goal in terms you can actually control.
Next, let’s look at your income, and its sources, in a new way.
The death of job security doesn’t mean the death of jobs. There are still millions of those, and more get added every month. They’re just not as dependable as they used to be.
Take a step back and evaluate just how secure your employer is. If you’re working for Apple, for instance, your position is probably more secure than at Nokia. But, as Blackberry employees will attest, that might not be true in five years’ time. What seems unthinkable today is history tomorrow.
Look at your paycheck provider through the eyes of customers and competitors. Read what the press says about your employer. If you worked for Circuit City, you would have had ample advance warning to find other opportunities before they laid off all their people.
You may love the people and the company you’re with, but if top management is messing up or customers are staying away, it’s better to leave first than last.
Self-promotion is more difficult for some of us than others. The good news is you can do it without being a jerk. If you have a job, make it a priority to become known by your boss’s boss and others in your organization, by those in competing organizations and by the people who buy from your employer.
For example, become active in trade groups and on industry blogs, attend conventions and volunteer to help the movers and shakers in your field of influence. If your employer has an in-house newsletter, ask to help put it together. Picnics and social events? What a perfect way to meet people—and those are the people who do the most networking and can end up being your strongest advocates. The list is limited only by your imagination.
Ultimately, who you’re known by is probably more important to your income security than what you know.
You get your greatest reward and satisfaction from the intersection between what you enjoy doing most and what paying customers want.
What is that intersection for you? Once you know, become better and better at that. The more valuable you become, the more income security you’ll have.
How? Between something as simple as subscribing to some good blogs and getting a formal degree lies a plethora of options. Because of the Internet and social media, there are so many ways to teach yourself anything you want to learn.
The more you focus in on your niche, the better (and better known) you will become. And that is where income security ultimately comes from.
Even though you might be happy where you’re at, start scouting out alternative opportunities. You don’t need to take any, but it’s good to know what’s available where and to talk to others so you’ll be ready when you do want another opportunity. This could include opportunities in other geographic locations or departments, with competitors or even in entirely different industries.
Also look for emerging technologies, which can spur entire new industries. The key point is to keep your head on a swivel. The first people to jump on to something new end up being the leaders. (Just think of blogging.)
Ultimately, the changing times around us will result in a dramatic rise in self-employment. It may take a while, but it’s inevitable.
By far the most common element of the new wave of entrepreneurs is their use of the Web as their storefront; that’s where the market of the future will be. If you’re going to use the Web, invest a little in doing your marketing right. Several successful people offer mentoring or coaching to help people market their websites. Three people I’ve come across who excel at website marketing are Danny Iny, Bnonn Tennan and Dov Gordon.
Applying This to Your Career
It is what it is: job security as we know it is dead. There still will be jobs, but they will be harder to come by and increasingly less secure. Getting and keeping these jobs will require thinking farther ahead than before. As they say in skeet shooting: don’t aim where the clay pigeon is; aim where it’s headed.
William Cowie helps others find income security on http://www.dropdeadmoney.com by exploiting the opportunities presented by the economy in both good and bad times.