Friday, January 29, 2010

What Career Security Means to Me

Earlier this week I started a long term post series to cover the topic of Career Security. Today I would like to explore my definition of Career Security in more detail. The definition I previously used (which I expect to refine over time) is:
You have career security if you feel that should you lose your job you will be able to secure a similar or better one within a reasonable amount of time, without loss of income and without unreasonable personal discomfort.
Let me me discuss each of these four elements in more detail:

Similar or Better Job - obviously, this is a matter of personal judgement and opinion. I am not satisfied with a job that simply pays the bills. I want to do something that allows me to use what I consider my skills and talents. For example, while some would consider there to be a minor difference between business development and sales, I would not be happy if I could only land a sales position in the event I lost my business development job. Many people love salesbut I am not one of them, and therefore being able to get such a position would not address my needs for career security. For others, such similarity between the two roles would satisfy the conditions for career security.

Reasonable Amount of Time - time is a critical factor in career security. Most of us would be unwilling and, more importantly, would be economically unable, to wait five years to land our dream job. The amount of time one must spend job hunting varies greatly between industries, between position types, and of course tends to increase with the seniority of the position which you are trying to land. Obviously, the economic environment at the time of your job search is also a critical factor in the amount of time you must spend to land a job. You only have career security if you can land another job that meets your criteria within the time you can afford to spend searching.

Without Loss of Income - at the end of the day, we all work to get paid. Being able to trade your job for one that pays you less would not be adequate from a career security perspective. Having career security means that if you happen to lose your job you can reasonably expect to move "sideways" or "up" in the next position you line up. Being forced to take a demotion due to job loss means that you do not have career security.

Without Unreasonable Personal Discomfort - once again, a subjective judgment call. For me, having career security means that if I lost my job, I could find another one in Northern California. Yes, I am sure I could find a job somewhere in the world, but I don't want to relocate my family. For others moving to a different state or continent is no big deal, but being required to constantly travel on business in not acceptable. Your own criteria for unreasonable personal discomfort may vary. Having career security means that you can easily find another position that suits your personal requirements.

In my next post on the topic of career security, I will examine the various reasons that job security in the US has virtually disappeared. These can provide important clues about one can achieve career security. Stay tuned.

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Anonymous said...

Shadox - can you elaborate on your views of Sales vs BD? I'm a BD guy but, working for an early-stage startup, I don't see any differences with sales. Typically larger firms have the BD guys intro/create relationships while the sales guys manage the accounts, correct? Also, sales guys tend to have quotas while BD numbers aren't as formal.

Shadox said...

In many companies sales and BD are simply synonyms. In others, business development is more strategic in nature – it focuses on things that are not expected to contribute to revenue in the near term. E.g. technology partnerships; OEM agreements; distribution agreements etc. BD also typically does not carry a quota. In my company, my responsibilities are to manage relationships until a contract is signed, at which point I hand off the relationship to either sales or operations, as appropriate. Does that answer the question?

Anonymous said...

It does.

Two follow-up questions:

1) When you hand off the relationship to sales and/or operations, what do they do that you aren't able to? I am guessing that the salespeople who now
'own' the account will try to upsell to it and that's the part you don't consider as fun (farming vs hunting)? In other words, what is the logic behind this mechanism?

2) As you mentioned that BD focuses on things that doesn't immediately contribute to revenue and doesn't carry a quota (hence paid a fixed salary). Don't sales people typically make more? Would you make more being in a sales role where you could perhaps secure the same salary and make as much or double in bonus? By the same token, do you consider BD a 'safer' job to have than sales where you can often get fired by not meeting quota?

Shadox said...

1. Typically I work larger deals than a simple sale. It can be a distribution type agreement, a technological partnership or an OEM, even a framework agreement. When it comes to asking for a PO, it's the sales team that moves in.

2. Yes. Clearly if I were in sales my income would be substantially higher. That doesn't bother me all that much. You need to know what you're good at and what's important to you. I would not be happy as a sales executive in this point in my career (although I have previously done some sales).

Jonha @ Happiness said...

This post got me thinking. I have always thought that job security is important. Only to realize that career security is much more important and that everyone should strive to reach such level of security.

Your posts are always intellectually stimulating.