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How to Succeed Professionally When All Jobs are Temporary

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In today’s world, everyone is a temporary worker.

Even if you’re an executive at a well-established company, your job could be temporary. Working for yourself? There’s no telling how long your business might last.

Particularly in a down economy and a tight job market, it’s important to keep this in mind. Companies downsize. People get fired or laid off. The market changes. And while you might find another job in your field, your career is likely less stable than the careers your grandparents had years ago.

You may be tempted to get comfortable in your job because it doesn’t seem threatened at the moment. But as recent news goes to show, the multitude of jobs that seemed like they would be around forever are disappearing. Several cases in point: Bank of America laying off 30,000 workers, Borders bookstore closing, and even the U.S. Postal Service closing offices across the country.

How can you prepare for these inevitable changes in your career? Here are a few ways to safeguard your income:

Create a strong personal brand. Although your current job and career play a part in your professional brand, your personal brand is something that stays with you throughout your entire career, no matter where you end up working. Get active online, share and create relevant content, and give people a reason to remember – and hire – you.

Continually build upon your skills and education. Stay on top of news and trends within your industry. If your company won’t pay for professional development, figure out other ways to make it a priority. Learn new skills by attending webinars, conferences and training sessions, and gain skills that will help you regardless of whether you decide to move up in your current career or transition into a related field.

Build a professional portfolio. Keep track of your accomplishments, work pieces, recommendations and referrals in one place. Consider securing your own domain name (www.firstnamelastname.com) to house your professional portfolio. That way, when it comes time for a new job search, you’ll have everything you need all in one place.

Have a back-up career. When I was laid off from my job in public relations a few years ago, I realized the importance of starting my own side business to ensure I always had a job. Now, my back-up career is my full-time one. You never know how things will pan out, and you can no longer count on a company to keep you employed. So think outside the box about how you can grow your own side gig that can serve as a back-up plan. Thanks to the Internet and social networking, it’s easier to start your own business than ever before.

Maintain your professional network. Networking is still one of the top ways to land a new job. By keeping in contact with your professional connections, you’re more likely to learn about new job opportunities, gain referrals and make additional connections. And if you do lose your job, you’ll have a network to turn to for help.

What steps have you taken to set yourself up for success even if your current job disappears?

Heather R. Huhman is founder and president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for organizations with products that target job seekers and/or employers.

Brazen powers real-time, online events for leading organizations around the world. Our lifestyle and career blog, Brazen Life, offers fun and edgy ideas for ambitious professionals navigating the changing world of work.

  • Anonymous

    It’s crazy to think that the job security our grandparents and parents were completely accustomed to is gone. I guess in some ways that can be a good thing.

    • http://bestdietpillsexpert.com best diet pills

      Great post! We really live in a world where every job is temporary. And as you rightly said, we all must remain prepared for it as if it is going to happen tomorrow. Or else we will have to face severe hardships.

  • http://www.printinginabox.com Justin

    Just as diversifying your assets can be helpful, diversifying your skills and income sources will also be key to surviving in such a volatile and quickly-changing environment like the one we’re seeing now. Definitely have a back-up!

  • http://www.excelpestmanagement.com Andrew

    I left the job market several years ago and own and operate my own pest control business. More people should consider developing a trade as well. Personal freedom has great value. One thing that employees never understand and probably never will is that when you are in the system your mentality about everything is messed up. It took probably 6 months before I was able to get all the poison out of my system and think clearly. Once you’ve tasted freedom you can never go back.

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  • http://www.intRvue.com Jennifer Rolles

    Great article. So true that all jobs are temporary and you’ve given some great advice about how to always be prepared for whatever happens next. The steps you’ve mentioned are important even if you don’t actually lose your job. With all the acquisitions and restructuring that goes on these days, you may still have the same job next week but have a totally different boss and team members. Having an up to date professional portfolio/website can come in very handy to help people get to know your work and see your value. Are you aware of http://www.intRvue.com? It’s a tool that was created for just this purpose.

  • http://www.StartMyConsultingBusiness.com Greg Miliates

    Job security has gone the way of the dodo. On the other hand, I think that job security has always been a myth–more so now than in past decades.

    That said, it’s more important than ever to rely on yourself to secure your financial and career future. Companies are struggling, and if it’s a choice between the company’s survival and your job, you know what the choice is going to be.

    After working in both the corporate and non-profit worlds, I’m completely convinced that creating your own job is the most financially secure path; creating your own job also gives you a lot more income potential and control over how much you earn.

    I started my own consulting business in January 2007 while working full-time (and with 2 kids). I gradually built up a list of a few dozen clients, so that I have a steady workload and income. I’ve got more flexibility and financial security than I ever had at any of my day jobs. The financial security comes from having multiple clients who pay me, rather than relying on a single employer for my income. I’m at the point where even if I lost half my clients, I’d be OK; I could pick up work from the remaining clients, and increase my marketing efforts to snag new clients.

    Since I started my consulting business, I’ve QUADRUPLED my former day-job salary. It’s truly been life-changing, and has completely changed my worldview; I’m no longer dependent on a single employer, and I continually see new business opportunities.

    These days, it’s hugely important look out for yourself–that’s why so many people are turning to freelance/consulting work and/or starting their own businesses.

    Greg Miliates
    http://www.StartMyConsultingBusiness.com

  • Anonymous

    Well, the middle class was stronger for job security – and so were companies. Constantly changing jobs disrupts the continuity that middle class existence requires. There’s also something to be said for loyalty in one’s employees, as opposed to the constant influx of new mercenaries who are always thinking about their next company instead of yours.

    • http://www.escortamsterdamservice.nl Escort Amsterdam

      i agree that the middle class is stronger for job security

  • http://myreplacement-windows.com/ Rich@replacement windows

    I definitely agree with everything you have mentioned. Nowadays there is no more what we call a secured kind of job. I envy how the folks before get to enjoy years of no worries kind a thing. Somehow it is also good that people learn a lot of new things to keep up and look for better options. I have worked online for almost a year now and quit my day time job since for me it is a lot of hassle when everyone else has to lick their boss so as to get a promotion and your hardwork is drain in vain. Competiton is nice as long as it is healthy but it seemed rather different in my work before. I love the change and it is keeping me connected and much more alive.

  • http://www.becomeafranchiseowner.biz The Franchise King

    Thanks a lot, Heather.

    The days of the 30-year job are over. Every employee needs to look at themselves as “Free Agents.

    Corporate loyalty is long gone.

    Great tips.

    The Franchise King®

  • Brian Pauley

    So very true, Heather! We see a real rise in the understanding for those currently in the workplace that establishing your own brand is vital! We are not, however, seeing those entering the marketplace understanding that there is no such thing as “permanent”, that they will need to continually need to be working on their personal brand, and that their skills must continue to grow & evolve as the marketplace (rapidly) morphs into something other than a stable place.

  • Jodine Ibeme

    If 30 years jobs are over why do I still have to explain, why all the short term, temporary jobs at interviews. Ihaven’t been able to stay at any employer for more than a year the past 4 years.

    I have been finding little or no understanding from many employers. These employers are looking for people who want to stay, but then they don’t do anything to keep the person there. Some make the work difficult to or run out of work.

    All I want a job with benefits where I can use my skills move up,and a job that don’t quit on me.

    • http://twitter.com/RHS76 Romelle Slaughter II

      Jodine, my response to your question on the lack of understanding from many employers is that these employers are still in stuck in the old philosophy that if you haven’t stay at one job for 2+ years, then there must be something wrong with you.

      They continue to think, erroraneously, that people are going to stay in one place for over 10+ years like our parents and grandparents have.

      If they don’t start to realize how much the work culture is changing, they are the ones who are going to suffer in the long run.

  • http://dool.in Dave Doolin

    I’m working on a software solution for portfolio creation for “non-creatives.” Think middle management, back-end software developers, anyone who has run real projects where someone else traditionally gets all the credit. This stuff never shows up on resumes, it’s impossible, there is no place for it.

    • http://www.intRvue.com Jennifer Rolles

      Dave,
      We have created something like this – for very much the same reasons. Check out http://www.intRvue.com. Would love to hear what you think.

  • Anonymous

    Great example of how we can look at the lack of stability in the full time job market, and utilize that to better position ourselves to become entrepreneurs and small business owners. When the jobs aren’t there, or are lost, we really can create our own – know your strengths, skills and the value that you can bring to the table for a market.

  • http://www.liveandlovework.com Chrysta Bairre

    I’ve been giving this topic some thought lately and recently wrote an article in my blog about managing the inevitable change all of us are facing in our professional lives. Keeping a job until retirement just isn’t an option for most of us, and even those of us that manage to keep our jobs may find our jobs themselves change as technology and business changes.

    I started my professional blog to create a strong professional brand, build credibility, gain experience and create future business opportunities for myself. The more I invest in myself through my blog, training and education and networking, the more secure and confident I feel in my career, even as my professional situation continues to change.

    Two simple and valuable areas of success many professionals don’t use to it’s full potential is professional organizations and LinkedIn. Get involved even if you’re not currently looking for career opportunities. Never stop building your skills and your network. Don’t become complacent about your success!

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  • http://www.affordableaccountant.co.uk Mike Rowe

    You make some very good suggestions above and I will take your advice on board. I can be very daunting entering the temporary job market after permanent employment and sometimes you need reassurances.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joel.rigonan Joel Rigonan

    I’d say. When finishing the course taken from college, look for a job that is very close to it or a job that is directly in line with the description of what you have taken. If work is temporary, be proactive. But still aim for a job directly in line with the course you’ve taken and with the job you are currently in. Aim to be professional with what you are good at.