Employment security. What’s that, you say? It doesn’t exist, right? And planning for a career? Well, that’s like herding cats.
Consequently, we can only build employment security — the ability to stay consistently employed in positions — in places where we like to work. Sure, one company may lay you off or go out of business, but you have the job skills and the business results to show other employers you can help them with their goals.
Let’s take a look at five principles you should follow to help build a plan for your work that will give you employment security.
1. Separate your work from your company
This may surprise you. Your company does not care about your work as long as it is contributing to its business goals. Only your family and some friends care about your work and they don’t pay the bills. You need to look at your work as a set of skills you can sell to employers, not the fact that you work for a company.
2. Know your strengths and weaknesses
This is obvious advice. But too many people really don’t understand the strengths they bring to their work. Why? Because they are too close to it. If you work on a project, ask your project manager what strengths you bring to the table. Ask your team what unique skills or insights you bring to the team. Maybe even check that performance review and see if there is something non-generic there about your strengths.
Remember, too, that what is easy for you is often a strength — because others find doing what you do hard and are amazed you find it so effortless. We discount “easy” about ourselves. We shouldn’t.
3. Every job ends
You need to decide, right at the outset, how long you think this particular gig will last. Even if you stay at a company for 20 years, you won’t have the same job for that duration.
Set up what you want out of this particular job that will help you find the next one. More job skills? More team skills? Better “rounding off the edges” of your personality?
By focusing on what you want to carry out in this particular job, you start attaining skills and results that you can sell to the next prospective hiring manager, even if that manager is in the same company.
4. Job skills + job performance = opportunities
This is a simplistic — but not simple — formula for building employment security. You need to have the job skills to do the work. Building those skills requires persistence to get past the day-to-day work.
Too often, though, people miss the second part of the equation — job performance. Many people talk about all the great job skills they have and then never show any business results from their work. Unless you have both skills and performance, you won’t be presented with opportunities.
5. Prepare for this phase of your life
What you do on the job in the first part of your employment phase of life is very different from what you want to do in the last part. The end will be very different from the beginning.
Too many people think they will be in this lifelong career when the truth is that people can do many things over the course of their life that are not even related. Prepare for the phase of your life you are in right now.
How you go about building employment security — not job security — starts with having the right mindset about your skills, work and attitude. Following these five principles will go a long way toward getting work right.