Alvah Parker says when I got my job with AT&T in 1982 my father told me I was set for life. His generation really admired Ma Bell as AT&T was called. Having lived through the Depression job security was very important to my father. I was pleased my father was happy for me but I wasn’t quite sure I wanted a “life sentence”.
Maybe a whole new generation of people today will be looking for that same job security based on the recessions we have been through in the last 10 years. Unfortunately it may be hard to find.
“Business Week” recently had a cover story entitled “The Disposable Worker”. The article notes that many unemployed people are now taking short term assignments through Temp agencies and “Business Week” says that this may be the new way of working.
My clients are finding that they can get really good qualified people who are happy to work a few hours a day or a week. It is a great way for a business owner to add staff when he/she is busy but not confident that flow of new customers will continue.
For the unemployed even a few hours work helps their financial situation. Sometimes a temporary job can work into more and more hours until it actually gets to full time. Others get a few part time jobs and find that by adding their pay checks together they make a full time salary or close to it. At the very least temporary work gives a job candidate something to talk about at an interview.
Will this be the way of working from now on? “Business Week” says it will be for 5 to 10 years. I think it could be longer than that. From a businesses owners perspective he/she gets a “just in time” employee which is very cost effective. The employee gets a more flexible schedule which for many may be better than working 24 by 7. If you were looking for work-life balance this could be your answer.
So how do you prepare for working this way? First you need to understand that if you have multiple part time jobs you are in essence running your own business. To stay employed you’ll need to build relationships, create your brand and promote yourself in exactly the same way as a business owner does because that is what you are. As one temporary assignment ends you will want to replace it with another. By building solid business relationships you will be able to tap those relationships to uncover new opportunities.
Another way to be prepared is to watch trends in the work world and in your industry. What are the new skills and ideas that are becoming important? One way to find work more easily is to be proficient at a skill that is in demand. Learning it before it becomes mainstream will make you attractive to employers. You need to keep your ears open for that next competitive edge.
It isn’t enough to just know about the trends in the industry. You need to understand their impact on your customers. To do this you must seek out the thought leaders in your industry and learn from them. They can help you to predict future needs and methods to satisfy those needs. The next step is to use the information in a way that attracts new business.
When my father mentioned “job security” to me I thought it sounded rather boring – staying at one job for years. In the end I had 3 different jobs within the same company. I stayed at AT&T for 15 years and did actually buy into job security.
Times are different. Very few people will want to stay at one company for 15 years. Today you’ll need resilience to continually look for that next step. It could be in the company you work for, it could be in several companies or it could be in your own company. The security comes from you and the value you bring to the workplace and not from the company you work for.
1. If you are currently employed, think about your plan B (next move within your industry) and/or plan C (moving to your own business). Write a description of each so that when you see an opportunity you will seize it.
2. If you are unemployed and discouraged, it may be time to think about a career change. Read the article the January “Fast Company” Magazine article Seven Radical Steps for Career Changers by Linda Tischler.
Alvah Parker is a Practice Advisor for Attorneys and a Career Coach as well as publisher of Parker’s Points, an email tip list and Road to Success, an ezine with career and business information. Subscribe now to these free monthly publications at her website free monthly publications and receive a free values assessment along with your subscription.