I think most people think about “job security” completely backwards.
Job security is effectively how likely you are to avoid unemployment. Basically, the more “secure your job,” the less of a chance there is that you end up without one.
I think that the majority of college students are at least partially motivated by this phrase – job security – as a core tenet of the modern, American education system is to empower individuals with the skills needed to be “employable.”
While we can debate the efficacy of this effort, this essay explores the notion of aiming for job security in the first place. And what does that look like?
Most specifically, what is a stable job?
Should you be optimizing for a safe, stable employer OR should you be investing in yourself?
I recognize that everyone has their own path, and taking the more convenient one may be easier and have higher chances of success. I also am aware that this alternate route I am describing is quite unconventional and sounds risky/weird. Do what you want, of course.
If we think abstractly…what is job security in the first place? And why do people care about it?
People want work! They want money! They do not want gaps in income.
This makes sense, especially in the modern, materialistic age where money gives you opportunity and a host of other important things.
Okay so if you want money…let’s stay stable money for the sake of argument…
Some would say, perhaps the crowd of students would say, you need to find a stable job, with stable income. To many people that looks like joining a big corporation post graduation.
You enter as a cog. You enter with a base salary. There is a career ladder. They rope you in with the potential for a massive bonus. All looks rosey.
Except, what you did not realize by investing your talents into a massive machine, is that you have just “undifferentiated yourself.” You have just jumped into a bucket, filled with similar people, and you are now known, both internally at the company and externally to your friends, as employe #75854 of corporation x.
Sure, you have job security…but where is your individual identity?
Want stable “job security?” You can control that.
Build a personal brand. Have a massive network of people who really want you to work for them.
Build useful skills. Become a software engineer. Become a designer. Become a plumber. Become a trainer.
You join corporation x and you become a cog that fits neatly into a certain type of machine. Joining corporation x decreases your differentiation.
To me, job security is less about how likely you are to have a stable income today. Rather, it is about how likely are you to find work if you are unemployed.
What is your answer to that question?
Corporation x dies tomorrow.
What do you do then? Do you complain?
Do you beg your friends?
Or are they begging you to work from them?
If people actually cared about stability, they would be investing in themselves…
Again I recognize this path is daunting and unconventional. Most people hate cold emailing others…they hate writing…they hate putting themselves out there. But let’s at least be honest with ourselves here. There are multiple ways about achieving “job security” – stop shoving everyone down a single one.
Also published on Medium.