When I listen to my parents talking about their yesteryears, they have many stories fom their workplace. It was a time when government jobs were the norm in India. You finish your high school or graduation and head straight towards a government job. In most cases, that job stays on for a very long time. They’ve gone to the same office everyday for decades, two, three or sometimes four decades. After years of service they retire from that job.
That sounds incredible! How did they end up going to the same office everyday for most part of their life? If you look at the professional lives of this generation, they change their jobs every 3-5 years. In my relatively short career, I have worked for four companies with my time with them ranging from six months to three years. This is the same pattern with most of my fiends as well.
This does not mean that people are not sticking to their jobs anymore. I have seen people working since 13 - 15 years in the same company even today. But it is rare that people stick to their jobs for a long time these days. One of the reasons for this might be because of the volatile nature of employment in this age. That is to say that jobs aren’t that stable as they used to be in the past years.
Now coming to our point, people look for jobs in big and well established companies to ensure job security. They think that getting into a large organisation is going to make their career stable for a long time. But this is not the case in the current era. People are moving in and out of jobs everyday. Companies are hiring and firing more often than before. The only way to ensure job safety is to ensure that you keep yourself relevant in the industry.
Few years back, I left my corporate job to explore the world of startups and mid level companies. It was a choice that I made. My family was always supportive of all my decisions. I wanted to try out the world outside, find places where I can work on my passions like design and development. One day I decided to look out for jobs. Thankfully within a week I gave an interview at a company which was considerably small compared to my previous MNC. But I was excited, I was happy. The commute was double, but I did not care. I got to do design and development everyday.
But during this time, whenever I was in a social gathering or any family functions, whenever I told people that I work for a small company that they haven’t even heard, I used to get mixed reactions. People who understood industry would encourage. Others on the other hand always gave advice to join some MNC and find a good project. I used to just nod and move on. There was no point in explaining them, they would never understand the reason for my choice.
Every time I heard this suggestion, their argument was that a job in a big corporate is always safe. They believed that if the company name is not familiar, that means your career is screwed. More famous the company, more you get paid and more happy you are. They never factored in the fact that a person might really want to do something in life.
There are big misconceptions in the society about jobs. More than anything, people are rooting for elegant cubicles, a/c cabins, coffee machines, managers walking around throwing corporate jargon and the distinct pleasure of being the ‘corporate’ guy. From outside, it is all good and fancy. When I got my first job, I was really proud of my office and it’s huge towers and spacious cafeterias and all that.
I used to feel very safe sitting at my cubicle thinking that I have made it into a big company and things are going to be great. I had vision of myself growing through the ranks and being a manager. It was all a dream come true for me. I loved to sit in my cubicle and felt really lucky to be there. Few years later I left the place to seek something that I thought I wanted from my life.
Anyway, people think it’s all green. But the fact is, your job is only as secure as any other business that you might love to do. I used to have a different view about business when I was young. I wasn’t into it. I thought people doing business are taking a big risk. For people with day jobs, salary was regular at the end of the month, but for business men, there is no such guarantee.
But after spending few years in the industry, I have realised that this whole job security thing is a joke. There is no security. If you are able to go up to your office and your access card still works, you are lucky for that day. With the changing economical scene, it is not easy to predict what the future holds for anyone from a career perspective. Yes, small companies do tend to lay off people when they have a rough season, but this is true for big corporations as well.
Job security is a complete myth. Average tenure of an employee is around five years these days. What is more important is is Job Stability. Job stability is your ability to sustain a career with your skills. People have started doing their own things like starting a business and sometimes even doing small scale side projects and work like freelancing etc.
The only way to keep yourself relevant is to learn. By learning I mean keeping yourself up to date with the industry. Keeping yourself at the forefront of the ever changing needs and direction of the industry. Carve out a niche for and keep yourself marketable.
“Always be smarter than the people who hire you.”
- Lena Horne
Being in high demand is very important especially in this competitive environment. Anyone can lose their jobs anytime, but do you have hat it takes to get yourself a place somewhere? Are you good enough for any potential employer to take a look at your work and skillset and take you in on one of their project? These are the question you need to ask yourself everyday.
Most of us get so comfortable in our day jobs and settle down thinking this is what we need to do for rest of our lives. We hesitate to look beyond our daily routine. Suddenly when things change, it isn’t easy to align with the reality and re-position yourself to get back into the competition. Along with enjoying your day job, keep educating yourself. You should feel confident on moving on from your comfort zone.
As they say, nothing is permanent, but being prepared will prevent shock and surprise. You should be good enough to stand up for yourself and find your calling. Learn everyday and be prepared. You are going to decide where you are going to be. So make it easier for employers to hire you!