Feel fully secure in your career position? Great. You are in a select group of one.
For the rest of us, long-term job security is as common as a hole-in-one. Whether we’re junior or senior in just about any field, we’re all just a consolidation, budget slash or reorganization away from missing the cut.
So how can you keep your career on the fairway?
1. Stop thinking.
Worrying incessantly about the next corporate move can drive you crazy. More importantly, it can distract you from digging in and doing your job to the best of your ability. You can end up spending more time posturing and politicking, and less time producing. Which can make you even more vulnerable.
2. Let it happen.
So much energy is wasted strategizing and scheming to control what can’t be controlled. Now that doesn’t mean your should bury your head in the sand. Of course you should be aware of office politics, consolidations and budget constraints that can affect your career. You should always do all you can to keep yourself well positioned.
But just as important is knowing when to stop trying to control what you can’t. Whatever is going to happen will happen anyway, so know when to get out of the way and let it happen.
3. Be the product.
Forgive me, Harold Ramis (RIP), Chevy Chase, Michael O'Keefe, Bill Murray, Rodney Dangerfield (RIP) et al for paraphrasing your famous golf line from Caddy Shack, but it’s the most important point of this article.
Whatever your company’s products, services and/or offerings, the closer you are to producing them, the more secure your job. That means if you’re in an accounting firm, you need to be crunching numbers. If you’re in a design firm, you should be putting stylus to pad. In the sales department? You want to be contributing directly to the bottom line.
Sounds simple. It’s not.
Today, there are so many ancillary positions and off-line roles that are not directly related to your company’s output. Even if you now contribute directly as a hands-on engineer, sales person or mechanic, you could very easily be promoted out of those direct line positions. That promotion may elevate your career and salary, but it can also make you more vulnerable at consolidation time, since companies often look at non-line items first.
So how can you be the product?
If possible, get close to what your company is making. If that’s engineering, be one with blueprints. It it’s copywriting, put pen to paper. Being the product means being a more indispensable part of your company’s offerings (or your own if you’re self-employed).
If making product isn’t part of your official responsibilities, spend some your own time building, creating or selling — whether it’s for a second business, an online course or content generation for blogs and web sites (see my article, Build Crafts, Not Careers). Even if it’s non-paying, it’s worth it to make/sell/build something — doing so can boost your confidence, reinvigorate your passion and help you develop skills that are valuable, ownable and transferrable.
You can then start thinking about how to package what you do as a unique offering; something you can shop within your company, with another company, or as an independent consultant.
So stop thinking, let it happen and be the product. Oh, and take a break to check out Caddyshack for non-stop laughs.