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Howard Adamsky
Howard Adamsky

Career insurance: Seven points on keeping your job

Thinking strategically about your future, and investing in it, can help you in the long haul.

April 17, 2014
By Howard Adamsky

Like it or not, we are living in very dangerous times. Corporate America continues to quietly shed jobs, world economies are fragile, and signs of meaningful improvement are hard to find. The employment stability you feel is probably far less real than you care to believe. Am I out to scare you? No, but I do want to get you thinking.

If nothing else, please accept this one, simple fact: You are in charge of your career. If you do not acknowledge this as reality, you are ceding control of your career to the winds of economic change and the whimsy of your organization. This is not a good thing.

Here are seven points to consider as you focus on keeping your job: Things to reflect upon in this most important endeavor include but are not limited to the following:

  1. Feeling the fit. A career does not gain flight because of how good you are at performing the functions required. Being good at what you do is wonderful, but to really excel and advance, you need to be not only good at the functional aspects but also be the right type of person for the job. You need to fit into the organization. You need to work as the team works and play as the team plays while sharing the core values of the team. If you feel out of place, alienated, or left out of the loop in items of communication, something is wrong.

  2. Contentment is not good. Eugene O’Neill said, “Contentment is a warm sty for eaters and sleepers.” I will protect my good friend’s privacy here, but as a C-level person within a rapidly growing industry and in possession of a stellar reputation, he came into work one day to find that his job was eliminated in a reorganization. To this day he is confused and angry because he does not understand what happened to his job. Or why. This happens to people every day, but do not let it happen to you. This can happen in any organization, but if your organization is in trouble in terms of revenue, you are certainly at risk. If your organization is struggling, I urge you to look for new opportunities before you become a statistic.

  3. Read, write, and speak. These habits will lead to good things. Reading each day is mandatory because you were not only hired for what you are but what you will become over time. Writing is an absolute necessity if you have anything of importance to convey. Writing has opened up my career, and it can do the same for you. Speak publicly and do not let fear get in your way. Many of us would rather die than get in front of an audience. Find a local Toastmasters club and jump in with both feet. Your reward will be the development of talents that no one who aspires to do great things should live without.

  4. Keep your boss’s boss… Can you finish this saying? “Keep your boss’s boss off your boss’s back.” Misery flows downhill. If your boss is unhappy, sooner or later, some of this misery is going to find you. Be aware of the politics and pressures your boss is experiencing. Do this and you will be fulfilling one of the cardinal rules of survival and garnering loyalty along the way.

  5. Think strategically. Career movement, internal or external, is often like chess. It requires thought and planning and a number of what-if scenarios. Sadly, none of this is easy, but success seldom is. Regardless of your current position, it is important to think of not only the tactical aspects of your position but also the strategic overlay of your role and how it fits into your organization’s overall strategy. The world you live in five years down the road will be the one that you design. Start the planning today.

  6. Take intelligent risks. Intelligent risks can change your life. Personally, if I had my life to live over again, I would have taken more well-thought-out risks and focused less on being safe. Great things happen to those who take risks, speak out, and dare to assume responsibility for their futures. It has been said that fate favors the fearless. I agree.

  7. Avoid love. Tina Turner said it best: “What’s love got to do with it?” I agree. Do not fall in love with the company because the company will never love you back. If you sense that it is time to look around for your next opportunity, do not wait until it is too late. Put out your feelers, begin to network, and undertake the tedious task of building the bridge to your next role. It is better to leave your organization on your terms than on its.

In my last role, I specialized in working with CFOs who, most often, no longer had jobs. They were well-paid, and they were important. People used to jump when they walked into a room. Now, many of them can’t get phone calls returned. They have lunches, serve on boards, and play golf, but they don’t have jobs. If this can happen to them, it can happen to you. My suggestion is that you avoid this most unpleasant predicament.

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Howard Adamsky has worked extensively as a recruiter on the agency and corporate sides, most recently at Tatum. He has written and spoken about talent issues and employee engagement.