Most of us will agree that these days job security is no more. Between lay-offs and outsourcing, foreign competition and the decline of the labor unions, the typical American worker can no longer assume that his or her job will be there next year or even tomorrow. Sure, there are still small pockets of job security that exist in the economy. If you are a tenured professor, your job is safe. If you're a member of the military, you are can probably count on that paycheck to keep rolling in every month. However, for the vast majority of us, job security is no more. This doesn't mean that we are all doomed, but it does mean that we need to change our tactics to ensure that our livelihood is protected even if our jobs are not. We should strive to replace job security with career security.
I have previously written about the topic of career security, and in recent months I have been doing a lot of thinking about the subject (most recently prompted by this post from Frugal Zeitgeist). I have decided to take on a new blog project, and begin a periodic series of posts exploring the various aspects of this sizable, and important topic. I would like to start this series by explaining what I mean by the term "career security" and discuss how this concept is different from job security.
Job security is a fairly narrow concept. Having job security means that you are protected from being laid-off or fired. If broadened a bit, the concept also includes safety from demotion, re-assignment, a changing of work rules, reduction in pay, benefits and working conditions.
Anyone who has been a part of the work force in recent years knows that all of these different elements of job security have come under increasing pressure. The trend has escalated since the economic meltdown began in 2008. Layoffs are the most visible and aggressive form of loss of job security, but employees everywhere have also seen their benefits stagnate or outright reduced. Companies have eliminated 401K contribution matching (e.g. my wife's new company); have reduced medical benefits (e.g. my own company); have cut salaries across the board (e.g. my previous company) and have eliminated raises and bonuses (e.g again my own company). While some may complain that companies are taking advantage of employees, I am not going to make that statement here. I think that in many cases - although not all of them - companies are being forced into taking the steps that they are taking. In a future post I will go into detail about some of the market forces that are forcing companies into attacking job security.
Career security is a much broader term. In using the term Career Security, I am asking a simple question: given that your current job is not secure, do you feel comfortable that if you lose your job you will be able to secure a similar or better position within a reasonable amount of time and to do so without loss of income or unreasonable personal discomfort. If you answered "yes" to the above, then you have career security. If you answered "no" to some or to all of these points, then this series of posts is for you.
In a post which I will publish later this week, I will explore in more detail the four elements that I underlined above. Stay tuned.
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