Unfortunately, as much as we’d like to think that our careers are entirely in our hands, there are many factors over which we have no control. Keeping your current job may be one of them.
Of course, there are things you can do to increase your job security. Working hard, continually learning, and taking responsibility are all critically important. So are people skills, such as getting along with colleagues above, below, and alongside you; being a positive, encouraging presence; and dealing with others honestly and tactfully. Also important is professional self-promotion – that is, making sure that your talents and accomplishments are recognized appropriately, without being boastful or pushy.
But even when you do everything right, your job may still be in jeopardy. Cynics say, “Your job is only as secure as the emotions of your immediate supervisor,” and while this is an exaggeration, it’s true that bosses sometimes let employees go for reasons that are more related to their own managerial or psychological shortcomings than to the failures of the worker.
Further, you may be doing superb work in a company or an industry that is floundering, or you may be caught in a numbers game where in order to meet Wall Street’s profit expectations, the company decides it has to cut costs by 10 percent across the board, which means that somebody has to walk the plank – it hardly matters who.
So you can do everything right, and things can still go splat. As John Elway, two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback, says, “Not only do you have to be good, but you have to be lucky.”
Of course, it helps if you can anticipate when your job is at risk. This can enable you to prepare for the worst, not only in terms of your job search (updating your resume, expanding your networking), but emotionally and financially as well. You can get psychologically accustomed to the idea of switching companies, you can speak with your spouse, family, or significant other about the possibilities, and you can increase (or start) your rainy-day saving and investment plan, just in case you need to survive for several months without a regular paycheck.