This week I met a guy who’d recently been laid off from the tech industry. He was pretty much taking it in stride, enjoying a bit of time off between gigs, basically. At least, that was the air he was pulling off. I’m pretty sure I believed him.
And about a month ago, a former employer of mine laid off about 240 people, from what I heard, including about half of the bosses I’d had there. This one sounded like it was targeting middle management who’d been there 20+ years, aged 50-60, which isn’t a situation I envy.
And it all brought home two things for me.
#1: I would have lost it a few years back if that happened.
I had my identity so tied up in my job, I honestly don’t know what I would have done if that was taken away from me, and that’s exactly what a layoff would have accomplished: the 95% removal of my identity. It would have been seriously difficult to bounce back from.
#2: Job security is pretty mythical.
I remember when I left Big Company to work at a startup, one of the managers told me I was taking a pretty big risk. As far as I know he’s still working there, but the reality is that my job is a zillion times more secure than his, because I don’t have one. I have multiple clients, and multiple income streams outside of that, and it would take, well, the removal of the internet to cause substantial harm to that structure. Salaried employees don’t have that level of redundancy in their income.
I’ll admit, my contrarian nature led me to abandon the idea of job security, as I then understood it, and that’s a big part of what got me here today, but in hindsight a lot of that was naiveté. I sometimes wonder, if I knew then what I know now, if I would have just networked more and prepared for “temporary work outages” or if I would have still moved to where I am now.
In either case, the most secure job is the one you don’t try to keep, I think.
Photo by Jeff Sandquist