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:
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.
Even if you feel comfortable in your current job, be sure to peruse the job boards periodically or even to send out a resume or two. It’s always best to make a move on your own terms and in your own time, then to allow your circumstances to be determined by an unexpected pink slip.
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?