Job Security in Seemingly Unsafe Times
I recently had a lengthy discussion with a young graduate on the topic of job security. He was thinking about switching from a career in business to a career in public service, mainly for the sake of a slightly higher salary and the promise of job security.
Here are the thoughts on the topic, that I shared with the young man.
I guess most people will agree with me that we live in a world that seems increasingly volatile. While a part of this feeling is undoubtedly subjective, driven by social media and ever-faster news cycles, there are forces at play, making the world less predictable than ever.
Trump’s trade war tactics are changing the outlook of whole industries with a single tweet; Adoption of new technologies kills long-established big brand companies; populism makes elections less and less predictable, and in places like Hong Kong or Paris, frequent protests add an element of unpredictability to daily life.
And above it all, hangs the cloud of AI likely bringing a thunderstorm of technologic disruptions in unseen dimensions.
Job Security is Dead – Long Live Employability!
The effect of the above trends on job security is obvious: job security as we knew it, does not exist anymore! No big brand is safe in its market position; companies might get caught up in between the fronts of trade conflicts, and even public administration can and will be subject to disruption by technology or society.
As I see it, any recruiter promising job security to a candidate is either naïve or a liar.
The truth is, job security is nothing your employer can guarantee; it is something that you must build for yourself in the form of employability.
Build a strong professional profile, acquire skills that you can use in different environments, and apply to different sets of problems.
Learn languages, expand your general knowledge, stay up to date on trends in your industry. Invest strategically in your education, but don’t blindly trust in degrees. And, especially if you are young and, in the position, to choose between two jobs offers, always go for the one that promises the faster learning path.
Money is essential but consider taking a less well-paid job in favor of a position with more responsibilities and more chances to learn new skills. Most of the time, choosing the path of accelerated learning will turn out to be the better investment in the long run.
Relationships Still Matter
Relationships surely matter and job leads come from the unlikeliest sources. The first full-time job of my career I got through the friendship with an entrepreneur, my second job came through a job posting a friend of mine pointed me to, to my third job I got referred by one of my customers and my current job, again, was a job advert a friend forwarded to me. Be helpful whenever you can and don’t be shy to ask for help yourself.
And talking about relationships: a positive reference by a boss who appreciated your work can be extremely helpful. And if he or she trusts in you and your abilities, your boss might even rehire you, once he/she moved on. You, by no means, are required to shine your bosses’ boots or become a yes-man (or woman). Just be reliable, honest, and do your job to your best abilities. I have rehired ex-staff in different positions at all four stages of my career. No interview performance can beat a proven track-record that I witnessed myself. If I have a job to hire and I believe an ex-staff of mine would be a good fit, I make her or him and offer, no doubt about it.
Work – Self-Improvement Balance
Working hard in your job is absolutely important but knowing that employers can’t guarantee your job security also means that you need to balance your job with investments in yourself. Make sure that you have enough time for your family and friends, workout regularly and find time to acquire new skills, especially if your job is mainly routine and does not allow for much on-the job learning.
If you keep these ideas in mind, I am sure you will be successful in your career and most important, you will never overly depend on a single job or employer.
The freedom to disagree and follow your conscience at any job you do, backed by your confidence in your employability, is a great foundation to not just be successful in your career, but also to live a happy life.
Just in case you are wondering, pressured by his parents, the young man I was unleashing my advice upon still went for the career in public service.
I guess I was just not convincing enough. What do you think?