The famous Dick Bolles’ book What Color is Your Parachute provides a great deal of wisdom and sensible advice for job seekers.
First published in 1970 (and substantially revised many times since then), ‘Parachute’ has been one of the most influential job hunting books ever published. One of the sections I like best is early in the book when Dick lists general tips about the job hunt. First among these relates to attitude toward today’s job market, beginning with ‘Every job you get is temporary’.
We are accustomed to thinking about temporary jobs as those where people are employed for a short term to complete a specific project or to replace someone who is on leave. Sometimes, people prefer to ‘go temping’ rather than seek a longer-term contract or ‘permanent’ position.
However, in today’s labour market, it is unwise to think about a job as anything but temporary, that is, lasting for only a limited period of time. Most people earn their living as an employees working for an organisation. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, this represents in excess of eleven and a half million Australians. And, how long your job lasts is largely up to the employer, not you. Of course, being a productive and positive employee who shows initiative and gets on well with co-workers holds people in good stead. But every day, decisions about our careers and livelihood are made that we have very little control over. Witness, the rounds of recent lay-off’s across the nation, that have literally dislocated whole communities, and impacted thousands of individuals and their families.
The workplace is in a constant state of flux with organisations constantly changing, new managers being recruited, and workplace cultures shifting. It is true that a job and workplace you have been happy in for some time can change quite quickly – in some cases literally overnight!
Once you understand the temporary nature of all employment, your attitude to managing your career will probably shift. One of the mantras that my clients and colleagues hear regularly is “Always have a Plan B”. While this is ‘not rocket science’ it continues to amaze me how few people have actually really thought about options for their next job.
Ask yourself: do you have some ideas for future jobs, roles and organisations that would suit and excite you, that will hold you in good stead when you decide it is time to leave or the choice is taken away from you? Do you know what is happening in the labour market? Are your networks in good shape to provide the leads and suggestions that you may need?
So with very job having a limited lifespan you need for a Plan B and even C and D! If you are currently in a job, ask yourself what would you do if your job ended tomorrow?
A little bit of career planning is worth the investment of your time. Good luck with yours!