I don’t have to tell you that this romantic notion of job security, what we had in the 1900s, died years ago. Even in 2006, which is over 15 years ago, I would say “job security” and people would laugh.
Job security used to mean your ability to get and keep your job. Then, for me, it started to mean your ability to get a job every time there was a transition.
What you used to do to get job security, primarily get a good job at a good company, is just not realistic anymore. Never mind all the other parts of the equation (get any 4-year degree, learn a foreign language, be dependable, be a good worker, etc.).
If you haven’t been through a forced transition yet you probably know someone who has (a mom, dad, aunt, uncle, friend, etc.).
Losing your job is one of the most stressful things you can go through (according to this post, it’s the 5th of the top five life stresses). For years I’ve been talking about job security, and the new job security. This morning I was pondering what real job security is and I think it’s time to update my message. So, without further ado, I present to you the 6 Critical Elements of Post-COVID Job Security:
Networking for Job Security
I’ve been talking about networking since 2006. The root of my passion in networking is kind of interesting: When I started my horrible job search in 2006 I pretty much had no network. I even thought my credentials and experience would speak for themselves so loudly I wouldn’t need to actually network.
Since then I’ve had a change of heart. I’ve learned that whether it makes you uncomfortable or not, whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, you need to have a professional network.
Networking doesn’t necessarily mean you have to attend networking events all the time… you can have an amazing network without ever going to any. Here are years of posts about how to network.
Oh yeah, my favorite networking strategy is called informational interviews. Check out my updated course on informational interviews here.
Personal Branding for Job Security
The other thing I was completely deficient in, when I started my job search in 2006, was a brand. I didn’t know what a personal brand was. I didn’t want to make a brand. I didn’t want to share it. I didn’t understand that I already had a brand, even though it wasn’t what I wanted it to be.
Before personal branding we had “reputations.” They are pretty much the same thing. This is based on principles that we aren’t going to get away from. You can try to craft and share your brand intentionally, or you can assume characteristics from stereotypes. It’s up to you.
My strong advice, though, is to be intentional about your brand. Oh, guess what? I have a course on personal branding! Of course I do. I’ve talked about it for years on stage to job seekers around the country, and on webinars to people around the world. I’ve updated this course for Pluralsight: Developing Your Personal Brand. If you want to read up on my thoughts on personal branding, from the conceptual level to tactical ideas, check out the personal branding blog posts here.
Multiple Streams of Income for Job Security
For years I talked about Career Management 2.0 (wouldn’t you know it, that link goes to my Pluralsight course with the same title). I have talked about networking and personal branding since I started speaking on stage. I tried to figure out what the other most important element of career management would be, assuming a three-legged stool is better than a two-legged stool.
One day it hit me: working on other income streams.
I had once given one person control over 100% of my ability to pay my bills. That is nuts. There’s no reason we should give one person that much power over out ability to earn and live. Things might be better than ever but what if your boss leaves and you get a new boss who is the exact opposite?
I actually had an excellent boss and I felt extremely comfortable. Then, with some organizational changes, I ended up with a boss that was the opposite of excellent. Long story short I ended up on the street with no job, no salary, no benefits. Because of that one person, 100% of my income evaporated.
Fast forward a few years, from 2006 to 2018, I took another job. It was great, but 10 months later I got laid off. This time, though, the income I lost in that layoff was less than 50% of my total income. I had spent those 12 years figuring out how to create multiple streams of income. It was hard. It took years. But it was so worth it.
Aside from JibberJobber, I have other income streams that do well. I’ve had plenty of false starts and pivots… things I thought would be great income streams but were duds. I also had some great income streams that were temporary… they ended sooner than I expected but were great while they lasted. It’s been an educational journey, that’s for sure.
The best way to get laid off: have other income streams that become a great safety net, because job transitions are inevitable. This can great reduce your stress and give you some extra breathing room so you aren’t in an immediate emergency working on getting your next job.
Guess what? I’ve been writing about multiple income streams for years.
Continual Learning for Job Security
This is the big epiphany I had this morning, when thinking about job security, and the reason I decided to write this post.
In 2012 I was invited to create a Pluralsight course on how to use LinkedIn. Before that I had written a book on LinkedIn, some say this was the first book on LinkedIn. I had done tons of speaking and webinars about LinkedIn. I had also created a LinkedIn DVD which was updated multiple times. So it was only natural to do a course for Pluralsight.
Since 2012 I’ve created 36 courses (focusing on careers, soft skills, and professional development), and have updated a few of them a few times. My course count is 47, which isn’t 47 different courses but courses and updates. It has been A LOT of work, but it has been worth it.
My journey over the last ten years into continuing education has been… educational. Everyone talks about continuing education. Some jobs required continuing education credits. Some professions (like technologists) require continual learning just to stay relevant.
What I’ve learned is that we need to learn how to learn. We need to be okay with learning. We need to be able to adapt, and prove our skills in learning and adapting. By the way, you could (should) make this a part of your personal brand: that you are good at learning and adapting.
A quick note: I thought that after school (high school or college), when you were done, you were done with intense learning. I was wrong. That was bad thinking. I have since learned that I love to learn (even though it seemed uncool to love learning while in high school and even college). It’s okay to love to learn, especially once you get on a professional and/or entrepreneurial path.
Soft Skills x Hard Skills for Job Security
My courses on are soft skills. I am a soft-skills nerd. That’s not to say I’m excellent at my soft skills but I appreciate them and work on them. I study them and advocate for them.
Of course, hard skills are critical. I am a firm believer that you need to be proficient in your hard skills. These help you get your job, be good at your job, and keep your job. Everyone needs to have a certain level of expertise in what they were hired to do. Please get good, great, and eventually excellent at your hard skills.
Figure out what hard skills you should work on for future roles you aspire to. Create a plan to work on those. And then, work on your soft skills.
Soft skills is such a broad topic. There are so many things you could work on. Don’t even try to do it all. But start somewhere. Notice the title of this section is “soft skills x hard skills.” I did that on purpose. I don’t think that your total value is your soft skills plus your hard skills… I think there is a multiplier effect. Your hard skills are multiplied by your soft skills. That is so powerful.
Honestly, the first place I’d suggest you start is with emotional intelligence. I really think my course, Leading with Emotional Intelligence, is a course that can change the world. Imagining a home and workplace where people improve their emotional intelligence gives me goose bumps.
Seriously, multiple your hard skills by your soft skills to get closer to job security.
Personal Financial Management for Job Security
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that most people are not good at managing their finances. Maybe I’m just projected my journey on “most people.” I’ve seen a lot of people who were forced into a job search. The people who are petrified-level scared are those who are weeks, maybe days, away from losing things, including where they live.
I was invited to lunch with a guy after a presentation a few years back. I followed him to his home and we had reheated pizza. Sounds weird but he promised me it was the best pizza in town. Anyway, as we were chatting, he said that there were a lot of really nice cars in the parking lot where I spoke (to unemployed professionals), but most of them were at risk of being repossessed.
He then went on to tell me how careful he was with his money, and his transition was much more comfortable because he didn’t need to land something immediately. Managing your finances can make the difference between intense panic and a weird calm. This calm can translate to a very cool feeling about what job security really is.
I’m no expert in this field but I’m on a path of figuring it out. I invite you to get serious about your personal finances so that when the next unplanned transition comes you can have that weird calm. This is how we go from job security to income security.
Unless you were lucky enough to get a massive inheritance, be the beneficiary of a big fat trust, get exceptionally good at robbing banks and staying out of prison, you will need to be more intentional about your career. Some of you are near the end of your career and you are looking at “just a few more years,” while thinking about what your life will be on your “fixed income” or investments. Others are just starting out and will have to think about this for the next few decades.
The better you are at the six things above, the more “job security” you’ll have. Or, as I started calling it years ago, INCOME SECURITY. Income security accepts the idea that you will transition from company to company more often than in the olden days. According to the US federal government, every two to five years!
What if, instead of letting a transition every two to five years stress you out so much, you took more control over your future, your income, and your earning ability?
Talk about personal empowerment!