To increase your job security and career well-being, adopt a free agent outlook on work. This means spending time planning ahead, building marketable skills, and prioritizing your health and family. Doing so will empower you in the job market.
Americans are vulnerable to forced career and job changes – this is the nature of our economy and our physical and mental frailty as human beings. I know this personally and from years practicing labor and employment law and volunteering at my neighborhood legal clinic. Statistics also bear this out.
Today the number of long term unemployed people (out of work over 6 months) remains historically high, at nearly 30% of the total unemployed. More than 22% of the unemployed have been out of work for over a year. (BLS, 2015)
Americans are also financially vulnerable. A recent Gallup poll found that half of us are unprepared for sudden financial need, like a major purchase, medical event, or job loss.
Lastly, employers are outsourcing the jobs we thought were safe from export. In just one example, technology workers at Disney were laid off after training foreign "guest" workers as replacements. A recent New York Times article explains this is not an isolated instance.
People’s stories of feeling trapped in and out of jobs haunt me. They feel powerless and acted upon by employers, mostly by legal means, and a rapidly changing job market. And they are educated people, like technology workers, business owners, teachers, police officers, and financial professionals. Any of us gainfully employed could be one of them.
Adopting this outlook will help, as will saving more money this year for your emergency fund. Having Plan B and a safety net go a long way toward increasing your job security.
One way I follow this advice is by keeping my lawyer “bar card” active and volunteering to keep my legal skills strong even though I have no plans to return to my own law practice. I still get to do what enjoyed most as a lawyer without the stress or overhead hassle.
We don’t need to be as vulnerable and many of us have the power to do something about it. Don’t let day to day work distract you from what matters most and your job security.
I also published a slightly different version of this post on LinkedIn.