Feature: Building Up Your Employment Security

Feature: Building Up Your Employment Security

Feature: Building Up Your Employment Security

If you’ve been employed for more than fifteen minutes over the past five years, you know that the workplace is a stressful environment. Corporate America’s addiction to “doing more with less” and downsizing has added more tasks and higher expectations to everyone’s day with very little additional pay. That reality was recently confirmed by a report from the academic community. It found that more than one-third of all workers (34%) had greater difficulties at work because of ever increasing stress. Stress on-the-job was hurting their performance and thus their prospects for the future.

There are, of course, many reasons why we feel stressed at work. These include worrying about:

  • Meeting current financial obligations
  • Being able to retire comfortably
  • Falling victim to the next downsizing or reduction in force
  • Getting all our work done (and often the work of someone else who was laid off), and
  • Feeling burned out, used up or dead-ended in our career.
  • While all of these stressors are equally as difficult to endure, the first two-which represent income security-are often the result of the last three-which represent employment security. In other words, if we can successfully achieve employment security, it’s likely that we’ll also reach genuine and lasting income security.

    So, how can we avoid employment insecurity? As my long time readers know, I think there’s only one way to meet this challenge: we have to alter our view of what work is and why it’s done. In other words, we have to abandon the traditional notion that work is either a race up some company’s career ladder or a quest for wealth by the age of 30, 40, 50-you pick the birthday. Comfortable as those familiar goals may be, they will not protect us from the triple threats of nonstop layoffs, ever higher performance requirements, and the souring sense that our career has become an endless expanse of ever more dull 12 hour days.

    What will protect us from these stressors? I call it Career Fitness. It is a philosophy of working based on two simple tenets drawn from what we know about physical fitness. A healthy career, like a healthy body, depends on our recognizing that:

  • We are-each of us individually-responsible for the state of our career (not our boss, not our employer, not the Government) and
  • We have to work at protecting the health of our career every day.
  • Achieving Career Fitness is something that everyone can do. I’ve developed a set of exercises-it’s called the “Career Fitness Work-In”-that you can use to strengthen your employment security and eliminate the stress you feel on-the-job. The program includes seven exercises, all of which are essential to building and sustaining a healthy career. I’ll focus on two of the exercises here to get you started.

    Employment security is based on a person’s ability to contribute to the success of an employing organization. They may not work continuously in the same job or even for the same employer, but they will be continuously employed. Why? Because they can deliver skills, knowledge and experience that organizations need to achieve their goals. How do you achieve such career strength and endurance? You must:

  • pump up your cardiovascular system, and
  • increase your flexibility and range of motion.
  • Here’s what I mean.

    Pump Up Your Cardiovascular System.

    The heart of your career is your expertise. It is the knowledge you have and can use on-the-job. Now, expertise is often misunderstood.

  • It’s not unusual for recent graduates (and many hiring managers) to believe that expertise is based on one’s education, on having the latest knowledge in a particular field. It is, in their view, all about being at the state-of-the-art.
  • Those who’ve been in the workplace for awhile, on the other hand, often believe that expertise is grounded in experience on-the-job. It is, in their view, all about knowing how to apply skills in the workplace.
  • The reality, however, is that expertise is a function of both education and experience. One is not a substitute for the other. Both are required. And because the world of work is a dynamic and ever changing place, the education and experience required for success are always changing, as well.

    That’s what this exercise is all about. In order to be able to contribute to your employer’s success today and to the success of your employer (whoever it may be) tomorrow, you have to stretch and strengthen your muscles of expertise all of the time and without let up.

    Increase Your Flexibility and Range of Motion.

    The reach of your capabilities defines your (current and potential) value to an employer. In other words, the more you can do in and outside your job, the greater your contribution will be to an organization. To extend the reach of your capabilities, you should:

  • add skills that will enable you to take on a broader array of assignments in your current job. These might include the ability to speak a second language, to make public presentations, or to use a specific software program. The goal is to enhance your ability to adjust and respond effectively to whatever new circumstances and/or requirements may emerge in your workplace.
  • add skills that will enable you to expand the scope of your job beyond the limits defined in the official position description. These might include your ability to work in diverse teams or to manage special projects. The goal is to extend your (real and potential) contribution beyond the confines of what you are required or even expected to do in your workplace.
  • This exercise will enable you to play both a larger role and a greater array of roles in your employer’s organization. That flexibility and range of motion make you a more versatile and, therefore, a more valuable employee.

    Stress can endanger our career health as much as it can undermine our physical well being. While there is no single way to alleviate stress, exercise can have a significant positive impact. For your physical health, that exercise must promote strength and endurance; for your career health, it must build expertise and capabilities with broad reach.

    Thanks for reading,


    Section Two: Site News You Can Use

    AxaptaJobs.com launched as a site for Axapta professionals or those skilled in what Microsoft now calls MS Dynamics AX. The site offers both a job board and a resume database; registration is required to use the services.

    CareerJournal.com released the business school rankings from its Fifth Annual Wall Street Journal/Harris Interactive Survey of Corporate Recruiters. This year’s winners are:

  • Dartmouth College (Tuck)
  • University of Michigan (Ross)
  • Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper)
  • Northwestern University (Kellogg)
  • Yale University
  • University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
  • University of California, Berkeley (Haas)
  • Columbia University
  • University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler)
  • University of Southern California (Marshall)
  • Hewlett-Packard, in conjunction with the Institute of Psychiatry at the University of London, released a startling report about the impact of omni-present communications technology in the workplace. The study found that the average person’s IQ actually falls 10 points when they are distracted by ringing telephones and incoming e-mails. The decline is similar to the effect of missing a whole night’s sleep. The study also found that 62% of workers are addicted to checking e-mail and text messages frequently and that one-in-five are “happy to interrupt a business or social meeting to respond to an e-mail or telephone message”-sound familiar, all you Blackberry users out there? And how about this for blinkered thinking: 89% of the respondents thought it was rude for colleagues to respond to e-mail and phone calls during meetings, but 30% thought it was O.K. if they do it-after all, they’re just being diligent!

    JobsinLogistics.com announced an alliance with the American Society of Transportation & Logistics. The agreement enables transportation and logistics professionals to see the job opportunities posted by the employer members of the trade association.

    SeminarInformation.com reported that its most popular training programs are those that involve interpersonal relations. Specifically, the courses generating the greatest interest are those that deal with how to communicate with tact and finesse, how to be diplomatic, how to handle difficult people, and how to get along better with people in general. It seems that, even as the workplace gets more dependent on technology, people are realizing that work is a contact sport. Success depends on your ability to interact and communicate with others effectively.

    Section Three: Site Profiles

    Site Insite … how well do you know the Web’s 40,000+ job boards?

    1. You’re a seasoned hydrologist looking for a position with an engineering firm that is working in the hurricane and flood ravaged Gulf Coast area. Where could you go online to find a steady stream of great opportunities?

  • EcoEmploy.com
  • HydroWeb.com
  • theHydrogeologist.com
  • WaterMasters.com
  • 2. As an experienced Quality Assurance Manager, you’re choosy about which manufacturing companies you work with. Which of the following sites would connect you to job openings with high caliber employers that would likely meet your spec?

  • TopUSAJobs.com
  • QPeople.com
  • QStaff.com
  • QCenter.com
  • 3. You’re a merchandiser who’s just relocated to Boston. Which of the following sites would help you fashion an effective job search in that metropolitan area?

  • AllRetailJobs.com
  • Yahoo! HotJobs
  • MyRetailJobs.net
  • CareerBuilder.com
  • (answers below)

    Site Spotlite … from the pages of WEDDLE’s 2005/6 Guides and Directories

    American Preferred Jobs


    Post full time jobs: Yes

    Post part time, contract or consulting jobs: Yes – All

    Distribution of jobs: National-USA

    Number of jobs: 260,000

    Salary levels of jobs: Not Reported

    Offer a job agent: Yes

    Resume database: Yes

    How long are resumes stored: 90 days

    Restrictions on who can post: None

    Other services for job seekers: Listserv/discussion forum for networking, Assessment instrument(s), Career information, Links to other sites with career information

    Answers to Site Insite

    1. All of the sites but WaterMasters.com, the site of a company that sells products and services for wastewater management.

    2. Only TopUSAJobs.com; QPeople.com is the site of a staffing firm specializing in the copying and printing industry, QStaff.com is the site of a staffing firm called QTI, and QCenter.com is the site of a conference center.

    3. All of them.