Posted by Brian McCullough
A 5 POINT STRATEGY FOR ENSURING YOUR JOB SECURITY
Think Job Security is a thing of the past? Think again. While it may be true that no one is exempt from a downsizing, layoff, or unexpected re-organization in today’s economic climate, that doesn’t have to mean you have no job security. Today’s workers simply need to redefine what job security really is given the competitive environment we live in, and where security comes from. You can (and should) have a sense of job security, but it won’t come from your employer. You must give it to yourself. Your number one priority, if you wish to have career longevity and fulfillment, is to remain highly employable. Here’s a proven 5 point strategy to ensure you have security in an uncertain job economy.
1. Under-promise, over-deliver
2. Nurture Your Network
3. Invest in Your Competence
4. Have a Plan B and Plan C Ready to Execute
5. Build Your Reserves
UNDER PROMISE and OVER DELIVER
The first strategy is simply to outperform your peers. Under promising may sound like a lethal career strategy, but in reality it’s the opposite, as long as you consistently over deliver. Bosses and peers become most frustrated with those who make empty promises, right? These are the people who OVER promise and then consistently UNDER perform. By getting really skilled at setting reasonable expectations, building in time for the unexpected (which you can almost always expect!), and then meeting or beating every agreed upon target, how much does that increase your value to the organization? Lots. People want to know what to expect and be wowed. Wow! them with your performance, not your promises. Valuable employees manage to escape much of the corporate shake ups, even when the shake ups hit their home turf. Create a reputation for being someone who delivers value and you’ll add a lot of staying power to your career.
NURTURE YOUR NETWORK
Do you maintain relationships with a diverse group of people–from close friends to casual business acquaintances? Or is your social life basically built around the coffee pot and bagel box at work? When faced with changing jobs (by choice or not), it is important that you have strong, reliable network in place. You don’t want to be building up relationships at a time when you need them most…it drains your energy and looks and feels too desperate! You want to continually work toward having strong relationships with a variety of contacts because you enjoy them and they enjoy you. These relationships are in the spirit of helping whenever it’s needed. You may include professional contacts within and outside your employer, as well as a diverse group of acquaintances through community, school, and social circles. Stay plugged in with others. It can make the difference between a long and difficult job search, and a smooth job change.
INVEST IN YOUR COMPETENCE
Staying current in your field is critical to long term employability–a.k.a. ‘security’. If your employer provides some of this, great! Take them up on it. But if they don’t (as many are cutting back here), take it upon yourself. Create your own professional development plan. Find professional associations, training programs, published material (books, internet sites, magazines and journals, etc…) and/or mentors/peers that can help you stay abreast of trends and issues impact your field, industry and geographical area. In order to be employable (whether at your current employer or somewhere else), you have to be current and be able to talk about future trends. If your most recent ‘update’ to your knowledge, skills, or abilities was the day you walked down the aisle to pick up your degree (and that wasn’t last year), then you’ve got to develop a plan to get in the game. Allocate 2 hours a week, or even a month, to getting and staying current or learning something completely new. A high level of competence sells no matter the economy.
HAVE A PLAN B READY TO EXECUTE
You may not be ‘expecting’ to lose your job or be re-organized into the job from he**, but who is? The point is -always be ready, willing, and able to do something else. If you love what you do, then all you need is a current resume and job search plan in your back pocket at all times. Your plan B should include the network and competencies pieces discussed in this article. If you think you might like to try something new then you definitely must start creating that plan. What would you need to know in order to make a move into something new? Who would you need to know? What would be the first 3 things you would do if you were no longer employed? Create your plan B and start working on gathering some of the key pieces (information, contacts, experiences, etc….). Pull it out every so often, update it, and keep it working for you. It’s like job security insurance. It’s there when you need it. And then, create your Plan C. You just never know.
BUILD UP YOUR RESERVES
Are you prepared for a job loss should one occur unexpectedly? Do you have reserves of money to carry you through 6-12 months without a regular paycheck? Do you have reserves of confidence in your ability to land on your feet and make the most of whatever comes your way? Do you have reserves of energy to conduct a full scale job search? Do you have strong, stable friendships that could and would support you if you needed them?
Having a strong reserve–financially, physically, emotionally, and socially–will help you be strong and confident before, during, and after any career challenge or change. This level of confidence keeps you afloat and, in fact, makes you more attractive as an employee (because you are strong and confident!). You may be less affected by a corporate shake-up and not have to draw upon your reserves. But, if you need them, they are there for you. How secure is that?!
Employers are no longer able to provide the kind of job security they once did. But that doesn’t mean we all have to walk around vulnerable and stressed. Create your own brand of job security and take control of your career. After all, it’s YOUR career–it doesn’t belong to the company anymore. And that can be a great thing!
Shawn Driscoll, owner of Succeed Coaching & Development, partners with motivated professionals to dramatically improve the quality of their career and lives. She challenges clients to stop struggling and sacrificing in the name of making a living and inspires them to re-define success on their own terms. Pick up your free copy of her special success report “How to Chart Your Course for Success and Fulfillment” at http://www.succeedcoaching.com/report.html.