Your job skills and talent are not enough for employment security

By Scot Herrick | Cube Rules Commentary

Jan 12

There is a fallacy that many job seekers have: their job skills are enough to keep their job. Not true.

The truth of the matter is many people have the job skills to do a particular job; those people can do your job just as well as you do. You see this when people are laid off due to outsourcing the tasks to a different company — “Oh, they will never be able to do the job,” they say, “we have too much experience for them to do it right.” But those same people lose their jobs anyway and six months after the transition, company management will rarely admit a strategic mistake even if all those experienced people were right all along.

Job skills alone will not give you job security, much less employment security. What else do you need?

Job skills and superior job performance

Not only do you need the job skills to do the job, but you need to show management that you can use those job skills on the job to help management reach their goals. All the skill in the world doesn’t mean too much when you can’t perform, can’t execute, and can’t reach the goals agreed to with your manager. Job performance is necessary to find work inside the company you work for — who would willingly take a transfer of a lousy employee to another department? — as well as showing outside companies that you can do the work well when applying for jobs outside the company.

A business network

Ignore all those clichés about business networking: the truth is you know people in your company and outside your company. The truth is you talk to those people about what they are working on and what you are working on. The truth is if you are looking for a job and you are talking to one of your friends outside the company, you will most likely ask them about jobs in their company. That’s networking.

Most of us, though, don’t systematically try to get to know more people, nor do we try to understand what kinds of strengths and practical knowledge we can bring to the people we know. We just go along, knowing about one hundred people, and never giving much thought about how we can help those people or how they can help us.

Job search skills

When do you use your job search skills? When you go look for a job. How often does that happen? Not very often if you look at it from a skills base — we practice our Microsoft Office job skills every day — and practice our job search skills less often than a blue moon. Yet the key to finding a new job is having a killer resume, marketing skills and interviewing skills. Most of us don’t even update our resume once a year, much less do anything about practicing for an interview.

But in a time when employment security is necessary and job security is non-existent, we ignore the critical skill of how to go about getting the next job.

Security through finances

Having one-year’s take home pay in the bank does wonderful things for beating back desperation when you are out of a job. That amount of pay helps you select a good job for you, damps down any insecurity of not having a job right away, and helps you have confidence during the interview. No blood in the water for you, nope.

Think you have financial security for a layoff? Try practicing laid off in your household: figure your unemployment income, COBRA costs, your normal expenses and figure out how long you can live on that without touching your IRA. Just your savings. How long is that?

Scary, isn’t it?

Your job security is at the whim of management

Layoffs are stabilizing and some hiring is starting to take place. Maybe your company is even making a lot of money. Doesn’t matter. Without employment security, your income is simply at the whim of management — start a new management strategy and your skills are no longer needed — you are gone. Wrong place, wrong time. Then you get thrown out into the job market along with the millions still looking for a job, much less a good job. So much for job security.

What other characteristics would you need for employment security?

  • Zack Pike says:

    Interesting question Scot – From my perspective; a key element of employment security is definitely the ability to communicate, both in print and in person. More often than not, it’s the best communicator that gets the job. Hiring managers select the people who they perceive as being the best for the job… Keyword here is “perceive”.

    You’ve got to be able to give the perception that your the best, even if there’s someone more qualified than you. We all know that qualifications mean nothing if they don’t like you, or they perceive someone else as being “better”.

    Effective communication in resumes, interviews, phone calls, messages, etc has definitely given me a leg up on my employment competition.

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