Once upon a time people had a career path that was mapped out for them and they would go to work, do the job or varying senior levels thereof for 40 years and then retire. From the same firm. After 40 years. This does not exist anymore.
For many years as a contractor in Financial Services, I would hear permanent members of staff saying that they could never work as a contractor because they preferred the job security that came from permanent roles. As the annual “organisational restructure” came around however, it was always the permanent staff who were “restructured” out of the organisation, while the contractors remained on site working on projects, some of which had lengthy delivery schedules.
Sometimes, those permanent staff members were even replaced by contractors. Now this is not to say that contracting is superior to permanent employment, each has its benefits that suit people’s needs differently and the fact is the new IR35 rules here in the UK have certainly changed contracting for the foreseeable future, which ironically goes to show that there is no such thing as job security in any form anymore. And this is not just because of the global pandemic.
What has caused the lack of job security?
There is a combination of forces in play:
- A growing population of working age people creating greater competition for the available roles.
- Better access to qualified candidates available globally employed either through outsourcing, remote working or on work visas.
- Automation (AI)
- Changing societal priorities and preferences (e.g. a move away from fossil fuels);
- mergers and acquisitions that may mean the new ‘parent company’ already has someone with your skills in the equivalent role.
- Cost cutting to stay afloat due to an economic downturn.
- The relocation of headquarters, as we recently saw during Brexit.
And various other causal factors that mean companies are able to, or have to, reduce their headcount costs removing any notion of security from a large number of roles across the spectrum. The biggest lesson about job security is that there is no security in something about which someone else gets to make the decisions.
What can you do to future-proof and secure your career?
Don’t rely on your employer to keep your skills and qualifications up to date. Keep yourself informed of new technologies in the field and acquire the skills you need to progress in the industry you are in, or want to be in. As a former Learning and Development Lead in corporate, I can assure you the L&D budget is the first thing out the window when a company needs to cut costs, so that training you’d love to go on just becomes less and less likely to end up on the corporate books.
Treat your career as a project
Create a timeline for your career including milestone and goals that you wish to achieve, refer to it often and keep a record of your achievements along the way, you will need these for you resumé/ CV.
Develop your personal brand
Make sure you are known for the thing you are great at and build your network on social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, providing insights about your ‘thing’. People will come to remember you as the “Calligraphy Queen” (or whatever) and likely think of you when they need someone who can write out their invitations or cards. Start building your brand and adding value now, so that network is ready when you need it.
The death of job security can be a gift, if you take the opportunity to prepare for it. Ironically, being prepared for having to look for a new role can actually secure your place in your current company for longer, because you are continuing to grow and develop new skills, which ultimately become valuable to your organisation.
But knowing that longevity no longer exists, you get to create your own future and have the potential to work on something you love instead and build your own “thing”, a friend of mine left corporate last year to setup her own calligraphy business, guess who is the happiest I have ever seen her?
I am here to help
Do you need help with future-proofing your career? Get in touch, I can help you with bespoke, targeted coaching.