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Job Security Is Dead. Now What?

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What’s your biggest fear when it comes to potentially losing your job? A month (or more) with no income, right?

You don’t want to be late on your rent or bills, and you might even have a family to support. That’s why job security was a big deal for you.

Was?

Yes—it’s gone. No need to pretend otherwise.

So, what can you do to help yourself feel secure when there’s no longer job security? Here are a few ideas:

Restate Your Goal

Your true goal is no longer job security; it’s income security. You still want to be on time with your bills and commitments (including student loans). That requires an income you can count on.

Job security was the old income security.

There’s a difference, and it’s not just semantics. Job security focuses on “them,” the job provider. Income security focuses on you. You can’t control them, but you can control you—and what you do.

That’s why you’re restating your goal in terms you can actually control.

Next, let’s look at your income, and its sources, in a new way.

Evaluate

The death of job security doesn’t mean the death of jobs. There are still millions of those, and more get added every month. They’re just not as dependable as they used to be.

Take a step back and evaluate just how secure your employer is. If you’re working for Apple, for instance, your position is probably more secure than at Nokia. But, as Blackberry employees will attest, that might not be true in five years’ time. What seems unthinkable today is history tomorrow.

Look at your paycheck provider through the eyes of customers and competitors. Read what the press says about your employer. If you worked for Circuit City, you would have had ample advance warning to find other opportunities before they laid off all their people.

You may love the people and the company you’re with, but if top management is messing up or customers are staying away, it’s better to leave first than last.

Become Known

Self-promotion is more difficult for some of us than others. The good news is you can do it without being a jerk. If you have a job, make it a priority to become known by your boss’s boss and others in your organization, by those in competing organizations and by the people who buy from your employer.

For example, become active in trade groups and on industry blogs, attend conventions and volunteer to help the movers and shakers in your field of influence. If your employer has an in-house newsletter, ask to help put it together. Picnics and social events? What a perfect way to meet people—and those are the people who do the most networking and can end up being your strongest advocates. The list is limited only by your imagination.

Ultimately, who you’re known by is probably more important to your income security than what you know.

Become Valuable

You get your greatest reward and satisfaction from the intersection between what you enjoy doing most and what paying customers want.

What is that intersection for you? Once you know, become better and better at that. The more valuable you become, the more income security you’ll have.

How? Between something as simple as subscribing to some good blogs and getting a formal degree lies a plethora of options. Because of the Internet and social media, there are so many ways to teach yourself anything you want to learn.

The more you focus in on your niche, the better (and better known) you will become. And that is where income security ultimately comes from.

Scout

Even though you might be happy where you’re at, start scouting out alternative opportunities. You don’t need to take any, but it’s good to know what’s available where and to talk to others so you’ll be ready when you do want another opportunity. This could include opportunities in other geographic locations or departments, with competitors or even in entirely different industries.

Also look for emerging technologies, which can spur entire new industries. The key point is to keep your head on a swivel. The first people to jump on to something new end up being the leaders. (Just think of blogging.)

Slash

Ultimately, the changing times around us will result in a dramatic rise in self-employment. It may take a while, but it’s inevitable.

You might start with a side hustle (no need to compromise your job prematurely), but if you stay with it, you’ll find a real market coming to you. The key is to get started, even if you start small.

By far the most common element of the new wave of entrepreneurs is their use of the Web as their storefront; that’s where the market of the future will be. If you’re going to use the Web, invest a little in doing your marketing right. Several successful people offer mentoring or coaching to help people market their websites. Three people I’ve come across who excel at website marketing are Danny Iny, Bnonn Tennan and Dov Gordon.

Applying This to Your Career

It is what it is: job security as we know it is dead. There still will be jobs, but they will be harder to come by and increasingly less secure. Getting and keeping these jobs will require thinking farther ahead than before. As they say in skeet shooting: don’t aim where the clay pigeon is; aim where it’s headed.

William Cowie helps others find income security on http://www.dropdeadmoney.com by exploiting the opportunities presented by the economy in both good and bad times.

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.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=317752194950479 Alison Elissa Coaching

    I really liked this distinction: “Your true goal is no longer job security; it’s income security.”

    Also, I’m curious, does anyone have concrete support for this statement?- “Ultimately, the changing times around us will result in a dramatic rise in self-employment.” I’ve heard the idea before, and it vaguely makes sense to me, but I am looking to understand the reasoning for it better. Thanks!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002751824674 Alex Dogliotti

      Hi Alison. Well, in reality income security has always been the goal. Only, until a few years ago (say 15-20 years ago) it was easier to achieve it through job security rather than self-employment (it still is, really). Setting up a business was a huge pain. General information, networking, marketing knowledge, customer studies were not easily accessible for Joe the Plumber (actually, in most cases they didn’t exist at all). Mind you, I could introduce you to a million SMB owners who still don’t have a clue about any of that today – and yet some of them are incredibly successful – but overall the internet did one thing: it gave people access to the business knowledge and tools that until then were owned by bigger companies. Internet gave people the opportunity to replicate successful business models upon which bigger corporations were built, and then adapt those to their specific situation. The recent economic crisis simply increased people’s interest around self-employment as an alternative to potential job losses.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=317752194950479 Alison Elissa Coaching

      Thanks for taking the time to write this Alex Dogliotti!

      The two main points from your reply are:
      -the increased accessibility of small business marketing techniques and
      -unemployed people turning to other income sources outside of traditional employment.

      These make sense to me. Thanks again!

      • http://www.facebook.com/howard.drive.5 Howard Drive

        scout is more.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=624833447 Elizabeth Allen

    A super read for real time issues we face.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1779008255 Cari Lyn Vinci

    Alison…there is quite a bit written about the transition to self-employment.

    Tom Peters talks about it in his book, “The Brand You.”

    Workforce Futurists like Carleen MacKay (Ageless in America) advocates finding other ways to earn a living. Instead of getting a job, (which might be considered a “gig”) she suggests designing your work via consulting, small business ownership, buying a franchise, project work, portfolio careers, etc.

    The Alliance for Excellent Education tells us that in the US, people under 30 are changing jobs every 18 months. Given that reality, many prefer self employment to job churn.

    The real security is what we create for ourselves.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=761839082 Ramon Lazo

    Thank you for this. I will print this and put this up someplace to remind myself what my life goal should include. I am tired of confronting the specter of income insecurity because of the way the world of work has changed this past decade. Frankly, I don’t see it getting any better any time soon because jobs continue to leave this country and competition for available work keeps getting more intense.

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