What Career Freedom Really Means

By Scot Herrick | Cube Rules Commentary

Jul 04

In the United States today, it is our Independence Day, a holiday celebrating the independence from England. You'll hear a lot of talk today about independence and freedom; how we broke away from the tyranny of England's King.

Today, there is a different type of "tyranny" - the tyranny of having to work for corporations. Of course, there a millions of businesses that are wonderful to work for, but large, global organizations can easily be viewed as very powerful and the people working for them in cubicles...not so much.

Of course, to be free of that kind of tyranny, the cubicle worker needs to be rich. Run their own business. Inherit millions.

And you know the vast majority of us can't do that. We need the job, the income, the benefits, whatever. To casually strike out on our own is not something most of us can do -- not even Cubicle Warriors.

To a large degree, however, we can be free in the corporate world.

I mean REALLY free. Not bullshit free. Not “Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose” free.

Many people think job security is the way to be free -- have the job security and your worries go away. Even though we intellectually know there is no job security, when we think we have it, we think we are as free as can be in corporate land.

Job security isn't the answer, though we could talk about that a long time. 

Instead, I'd contend that employment security is how to be free with your career. 

To me, employment security means these five principles:

1.

You have the right job skills

Job skills are the currency of employment -- have the right job skills and you can prove you can do the job. Don't have the right skills? You shut yourself out of the job.

2.

You have good Job performance

Hiring managers want people to help them reach their business goals and poor performing people on the job are not attractive to them. If you have the right job skills and you have good job performance, opportunities will open for you.

3.

You have a robust business network

With the right kind of business network, you are supporting others and others are supporting you in your career. When it comes time to land a new job, your business network is the first place to be looking for work.

4.

You have Job Search Skills

Building a resume, performing phone interviews, video interviews, group interviews, serial interviews, face-to-face interviews and negotiations over job offers is not something one does everyday -- and it shows. 


Building these skills is a critical differentiator in the marketplace of jobs -- you can stand heads and shoulders above others -- and get the offer.

5.

You are financially secure

What do I mean by financially secure? My benchmark is one-year's take home pay in the bank. Minimally, three months take home pay in the bank.


Why is this important? If you suffer a job loss, it keeps desperation at bay. Desperation can be felt across the interview table in a heartbeat. No hiring manager wants to hire someone desperate to have a job. 


Knowing your bills can be paid is a difference maker.

I call these principles the Employment Security Hierarchy.

Career freedom requires engagement, work, persistence, and presence. In many ways, freedom brings with it a higher level of responsibility, both to yourself and to your family.

Look: all jobs end. It is only a matter of time. Often, we can be proactive in finding a new job, knowing bad things are coming. Sometimes, bad things just happen that we don't see. 

Regardless, if you have executed these principles, you'll find a job and usually find it faster than most people.

Companies can walk us out the door anytime they deem necessary. Following these principles, you'll still retain your employability and your power over corporations.

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