All Jobs are Temporary! (And What You Can Do About It)

Welcome to the 21st Century, where job security is a thing of the past! No one wants to think about this, but because of technology and globalization, the possibility is very real that many jobs and careers that have recently disappeared aren’t coming back. It’s a new world where all jobs are temporary.

There may be a temptation to think that you have nothing to worry about because your job or career isn’t immediately threatened. But that’s just what many people in customer service, information technology and many other fields thought just a few years ago before their functions were moved overseas.

There are almost no jobs that can’t be replaced by a machine, a computer software system or a lower wage worker in some other country. The economic landscape is changing and though we may not like it, we have no choice but to adapt. Are you ready?

There is no more job security

It’s time to face a few facts:

All Jobs are Temporary! (And What You Can Do About It)
All Jobs are Temporary! (And What You Can Do About It)

Get past the idea of job security. Somewhere in our minds is a vision of a “normal world”—a place where America’s economy is the undisputed world leader, and it’s citizens and workers are fully and comfortably employed in living wage jobs with full benefits. But this isn’t the 1950s any more, or even the 1990s. Today’s reality is that many people don’t have jobs, let alone job security. Begin to replace job security as a priority with employment security–the ability to earn an income beyond your current job or business.

Loyalty isn’t a lifelong commitment. Many of us have been trained to believe that loyalty is forever, but in today’s uncertain economy that kind of thinking can keep you on a sinking ship long enough for you to go down with it. Do the best job you can in the job you’re in now, but keep your radar up and in high gear, always on the lookout for the next opportunity. Realize that loyalty is a two way street and remember…

…they’ll get rid of you as soon as they don’t need you any more. This is the ultimate reality in today’s job market. You may be up to your eyeballs in work today and even for the foreseeable future, but businesses survive and thrive today by finding ways to cut costs. And that means jobs—maybe yours.

The time to look for a new job is before you need one

It seems to be some sort of cosmic law that the best opportunities in life come upon us when we’re busy with something else. The corollary is that when we’re unemployed and available they just don’t seem to come our way. Recognize this conundrum and prepare for it. That means searching out and pursuing opportunities before you have an immediate need to do so.

Just as important is realizing that many opportunities take longer to hit pay dirt than we typically think. If time may be required to make a job or venture work, starting now will be the most prudent course of action. What ever job or business you have, always look ahead for the next opportunity.

Keep your skills current—develop new ones

When I was growing up it was a mark of a successful career that one could kick back, relax, and enjoy the fruits of a long career. But get too comfortable in your career or business today and you could join the ranks of the unemployed.

Stay on top of your field, procure the skills you need to stay in it, and look to develop new ones that might enable you to move into a parallel field.

Consider maintaining more than one career

If you’ve been in sales the past few years, you might appreciate what I’m about to say here. Since about 2007, many commissioned sales people have experienced dramatic income drops. During recessionary times, this isn’t an uncommon occurrence at all. But how great would it have been to have hands-on skills to move into a salaried position or self-employment?

Moral of the story: have a back up career. Money is good insulation from employment uncertainty, but sooner or later it runs out. When it does, you’ll need to have something you can do to bring in more. Having that career, skill or business in the pipeline before it’s needed will make the transition that much quicker when it’s needed.

Never settle in financially!

No matter how optimistic you are about your current job, don’t settle in financially. That means spend less, save more and stay out of debt. The traditional advice of saving a small percentage of your net income over many years—say 10%–doesn’t apply in a world where employment can no longer be relied upon. Try saving 20%, 30%, even 50% of your net income if you can.

And don’t plow it all into retirement savings either. Immediate needs for savings are more pressing now than they were a few years ago. Saving for the near future is now at least as important as doing it for the distant future.

Since all jobs are temporary, consider self-employment, even if you’ve never been

If you can’t count on a company to keep you employed, having your own business may be the best security you can have. Though not everyone is cut out to be in their own business, the state of the job market has ironically made doing so less risky than it was just a few years ago.

Even if you’re not in a position to quit your job and start a business, you probably can begin by starting with a side business. Unlike jobs, business ventures need time to develop, to make mistakes, to find a niche and to turn a profit. If you’re currently employed, you have the needed cash flow to take a chance on a business.

We’re told to use diversification in building investment and retirement portfolios, as a way of reducing risk and increasing long term returns. Now is the time to apply the same philosophy to our incomes. Diversify income sources between a full time job, a part time job and/or a side business, and be prepared to roll with the economic punches of our time.

There’s no advantage in agonizing over what appears on the surface to be a reduction in economic opportunities. We need to see this as an economic reorganization, a time when the rules are changing, and the need to seek opportunity has never been more important.

Can you give any advice on how to keep a paycheck coming in this economy? Have you faced long term unemployment and wished you’d taken some of these steps?

( Photo from Flickr by Archmage01 )

27 Responses to All Jobs are Temporary! (And What You Can Do About It)

  1. The idea of job security has always been a fallacy. We have been indoctrinated to believe that showing up for work and putting in the time is all that is necessary. It isn’t.

    The key is to provide value. The more value you create for others, the more you will receive in income in return. That aligns your needs (for a paycheck) with the needs of your employer or business (to operate at a profit and grow).

  2. John – What you’ve written is so true. Better economic times tend to hide that fact. When the economy tanks, and the job market gets tight, we come face-to-face with creating value.

    In a real way, creating value is what this post is all about. We need to find ways to do it–even if from various sources–in order to insure any kind of economic survival. The days of automatic job security are over.

  3. Sounds like wise advice to me! I haven’t faced unemployment before, but I’ve played the layoff musical chairs game almost every years. It’s just a matter of time!

  4. MR – Yeah, it’s come down to that job loss has become so predictable that we need to have a game plan to prepare for WHEN, not IF, it occurs. Most of us don’t like to think about it, of course, but it’s like any other financial disaster we might be planning for. Sometimes real opportunity comes along the way–that’s the silver lining, if we embrace it.

  5. Kevin:

    Do you have any suggestions about “possible” self-employment opportunities?

    Reason for asking:
    Seems to be alot of online SCAMS out there and I am so over them all.

    Secondly, when you don’t have that EXTRA cash to invest – what options are out there?

    I am now 52 and beginning to wonder about the years ahead when I would like to relax and do some traveling.

    Thank you,
    My Blog: “A Story of Hope” http://survivingunemployment.weebly.com

  6. Hi Shirley,

    The best kind of “self employment” that aren’t scams are the ones that:
    1) require you to create something – offer something of value.
    2) require you to put forth tremendous effort, at least at the beginning.
    3) has an easy to understand “revenue model”

    If you don’t have extra cash to invest, then your first line of defense is to create extra cash. Set your target small first so you can have a realistic goal to achieve, and it is less daunting to figure out how to make $10 or even $100 in 30 days than it is to say “how do I earn $1000”?

    (but if you look at scams, they all promise you $10,000 a month like it’s a walk in the park. that’s what some of them DO make, from scamming people who are desperate to believe in something.)

    good luck to you!

  7. Jane – Outstanding advice. Creating something of value is the entire basis of capitalism and entrepreneurialism. So many are so star struck by the many get-rich-quick scheme’s that the simplicity of creating or delivering something useful seems almost exotic.

    Simplicity is another important factor. I think that in the complex world we’ve created, people crave simplicity. Especially when it comes to making money!

  8. Thanks, Kevin! I’ve written an article called “Foundational Principles of Generating Income, Part 1” explaining the different types of income (not income streams, but types of income) to get people started on the basics of income generation and why incomes are not created equal. [it’s on your track back to this post]

  9. Recently i read survey that around 7 million jobs are vaporised in last two years, Even working hard or working for your company is gonna bring you something. So lets work for ourself in the company and try to be more skilled and shift your response very quickly to stay in safe hands…

    James

  10. James – I think that being self-employed is more integral to the American Dream than anything else, including a house in the suburbs. It may be time for many of us to consider starting our own business in order to have a dream for ourselves.

  11. The amazing thing is that even in the US Navy, which has for years been a stalwart of job security, essentially laid off over 3000 people this year. It was a mess. It has awakened us though to the reality of the world. Not even the Navy is safe. As the first commenter, John, said: Provide value.

  12. Hi Dan–That IS scary! The federal government & military are the last bastions of anything that looks like the job/career security of a generation ago. I’ve been reading about defense cuts though and it seems that has to impact employment in some way. Though I think it will be much less severe than what’s been seen in the private sector. Still, it has to make you think.

  13. This is a great and scary article at the same time. I work hard to differentiate myself from others and create things that other employees want to use but have no idea how to create or update. It let’s me hold onto some intellectual property that the company wouldn’t have without me.

  14. Hi Grayson–That’s a great niche. That’s an example for everyone too, find a niche at work and take ownership of it. Not only will you better secure your position, but you’ll also become known for something specific, and that has real potential.

  15. Great article Kevin. I have a few employees who think this way. They think that just because they were some of the first people hired that they won’t get let go. Oh how far from the truth they are. The truth is as a business owner I will be more likely to keep the workers who do their job the best, and the workers who slack off and think they got a job because of seniority will get laid off.

    Employment is a totally different animal these days and people have to realize that the better you are and the more skills and resources you can pull from the more likely you are to succeed.

  16. Hi Chris–The whole seniority crutch is a holdover from the days when it mattered. It’s the weakest of arguments for keeping a job now. All you have to do is look around at the number of long term employees who have been let go precisely because of seniority (high salaries and benefits).

    There also seems to be a sense of employers wanting some form of employee rotation. That involves clearning out more senior employees in favor of new ones with fresh outside experience. Technology seems to be driving this since younger workers are often more cutting edge on this.

  17. Good points. I hear so many people complain about their job, their pay, their commute. But unless you are willing to take control of your financial situation and generate some percentage of your income on your own by building networks, creating streams of income or acquiring assets, you will always stay in the same boat. And it all starts with the way we think. If you want things to change, you have to start with the way you think.

  18. That’s a brilliant point and very well written. The only way to improve your income situation is to make it happen yourself. That requires more dynamic action, that all starts with changing the way you think. Change is coming about whether we accept and prepare for it or not. And if we prepare, it won’t be so dismal. It may even turn out to be a blessing. But that only happens if you change your behavior and embrace the changes.

  19. Hey Kevin ,
    It is inrguably difficult to live with job insecurity but a good worker with marketable skills always has lot to offer to the other potential employers if he gets laid off . The suggestions put forth by you to cope with the situation are helpful .

  20. Hi Purnima–Yes, I think you’re absolutely correct, it’s all about having marketable skills. You have to keep your skills up-to-date, be constantly networking with people and for potential jobs, look for career alternatives and align your finances with the new unstable reality.

    In a real way, that will mean that you will be a better, more mobile and more flexible worker. That’s not a bad thing at all!

  21. Hi Maya–Agreed, but I’d put them under the broader categories of either contract/temporary work (if it’s a single employer) or self-employment, if you have mutltiple clients that you freelance for.

  22. Hi Kevin. I can say from experience that self-employment, while not for everybody, has saved me before. My husband and I work far, far harder and longer being self-employed than we ever did for an employer (and we weren’t slackers). But we do see the benefits from the long hours and hard work, but it has taken many years to get to that point. In the beginning, the only salary he took was to pay his mortgage and utilities. Every penny went back into building a business. Your article is spot-on, once again. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of keeping your financial outgo far below the income and put savings away in any form available so one can survive when and if a job loss happens. Most likely when, as you say. A side hustle is a great way to get started on working towards self-employment.

  23. Hi Bev – Agreed, I work harder now than I ever have in my life. But since it’s for my own business, it isn’t as stressful or as exhausting. Some days I get “writer’s block”, and others I can go until midnight. Speaking of which, I work more hours being self-employed, but since I don’t have a rigid schedule, I can work in personal and family time. For example, I can take time with my family during the day, but work into the night.

    And yes, it takes a few years to reach the point where your business venture is self-sustaining, but it’s worth the climb. Heck, you spend years building a career, why expect anything different when building a business. A lot of times, I think people give up too quickly. The side hustle method is the best strategy, because it enables you to build your business while you’re still on an employer’s payroll. It’s far less risky.

  24. “Heck, you spend years building a career, why expect anything different when building a business.” Couldn’t have said it better myself, Kevin. It’s a joy to read and participate in your blog.

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