What's Your Plan B? Create Your Own Job Security with a Personal Back-Up Plan
For better or for worse, the era of lifelong employment is probably gone for good. In our grandparents’ day, it wasn’t unusual for an employee to spend an entire career in the service of a single company. Today, most workers will change jobs an average of seven times over the course of their careers, according to the latest U.S. and Canadian labor statistics.
What precipitated this dramatic shift? Labor analysts have pinpointed several contributing factors. Society as a whole is more mobile these days, and fewer families have either the expectation or the desire to stay put in the same community indefinitely. From an economic point of view, market trends and labor costs have experienced a lot of turbulence over the last few decades. Often, companies that find themselves between a rock and a hard placed are forced to order layoffs just to make ends meet.
Redefining Job Security for the 21st Century
For a variety of reasons, banking on lifelong job security in the traditional sense just isn’t realistic. In today’s brave new employment market, the responsibility of creating a sense of career security falls squarely on the shoulders of employees themselves.
But according to career consultant Pam Lassiter, author of The New Job Security: Five Strategies to Take Control of Your Career, today’s workers have more power than they might assume when it comes to job security. All you have to do is adjust your definition of what “job security” means – and adjust your strategies accordingly. Use these tips to help create your own job security on your own terms.
Work to establish an “uh-oh” fund.
The most anxiety-producing part of working without the safety net of traditional job security is the thought of being put out on the streets without knowing where your next paycheck is coming from. You can eliminate a lot of this stress by building up a bit of a financial cushion. Just by setting aside the cost of a couple of super-duper triple-venti lattés each week, you could have a few paychecks’ worth of savings built up in a matter of months. It won’t be enough to retire on, but it should tide you over until you can find something temporary if worse comes to worst.
Make yourself marketable.
To put it simply, never stop learning. Make it your objective to keep abreast of all of the latest trends and techniques in your area of specialization. That way, you’ll not only increase your value to your current employer, but you’ll be more appealing to potential future employers, as well.
Network, network, and network some more.
Have you ever known someone who let themselves get too comfortable and complacent in a job, only to have nowhere to turn when their luck eventually ran out? You can avoid this fate by keeping your professional contacts alive. Too many people think of networking as something you only have to do when you’re seeking a new position. But if you work hard to keep your network active all the time, you’ll always have a large pool of contacts to call on if you find yourself unemployed.
Keep your application materials updated.
Applying for a new job often entails massive amounts of paperwork, and these kinds of bureaucratic chores can take a lot of precious time – and cause a lot of unwelcome stress – if you wind up in a situation where every minute matters. Instead of waiting for the other shoe to drop, why not revisit your résumé and cover letter every month or so? That way, you’ll have everything ready to go in case of an emergency.
Easier said than done, right? But if you find yourself looking for a new job unexpectedly, please try to remember that you’re not alone. Job mobility is the new paradigm these days, and most workers will likely find themselves resorting to “Plan B” at some point in their professional lives. If you’ve thought through your options ahead of time, you’ve already won half the battle.