Six Reasons You'll Lose Your Job Regardless of What You Do

I know you are working hard to keep your job. You have been told, as have I, that there are certain things we can do to keep our jobs safe. Perhaps we believed that a better degree, more experience, lots of hard work, even working extra hours would be the things that help us maintain some amount of job security. You know, enough job security that will protect us from a layoff when others in our company or department are getting laid off.

We believed that our job security was in our control. But it really isn't. Here are six flawed assumptions about job security that you need to get over.

1. It doesn't matter who you know, or even who knows you.

At my first big company job I was privileged to work in a small, highly-productive programming department. One of our team members had a relationship with the son of the owner, which was a big deal. However, when it was time for cutbacks, this person got let go. His relationship didn't save him. I know sometimes managers and owners will save people who should be cut from a layoff but in meetings where cuts are discussed the owners and managers look at numbers, results, stats and hard data - not simply the relationships.

2. It doesn't matter what your credentials are.

Having certain degrees or skills might have gotten you through the hiring process but if you haven't proved you are valuable to the company in your position, or that you have the capacity to learn and add value in other capacities, you might have made yourself obsolete. And when it's time to cut positions, obsolete employees are the ones who keep coming up at the top of the list.

3. It doesn't matter how profitable your division is.

There's an assumption that a division that performs poorly is always scrutinized and in danger. There's also an assumption that divisions that perform better than others are safe. If a company decides that whatever your division offers does not fit into their strategic direction it doesn't matter how well you are doing financially. Also, even a multi-million dollar profit is insignificant to a huge multi-billion dollar conglomerate.

4. It doesn't matter if you are the highest performer, or most valuable person on the team.

Many times the discussions are about cost-savings. If you are twice as costly as others on your team you better start getting your résumé ready. Imagine how much the company could save if they got rid of the top 3 salaries? Whether you are worth it or not is another question, but when they want to justify cost-saving measures (like laying people off), bigger salaries become easy targets.

5. It doesn't matter how "irreplaceable" you think you are.

Everyone is replaceable. Say this out loud "I am replaceable." If you don't think that's true, imagine if you are, um, dispatched today. What would happen? I bet your organization would figure out how to move forward. People would step up and help the product, customers, prospects, or vision move forward. It likely won't fall apart. It might be different than what you would do, but it will still likely move forward.

6. Sometimes, nothing matters.

You might be in the crosshairs regardless of anything you have or haven't done. Perhaps you've worked too hard, which could make an insecure boss even more insecure. Perhaps you haven't worked hard enough, which makes your boss look bad. People at Enron didn't have a chance, no matter what they had done for their employer. Natural disaster can wipe out a company that doesn't have an appropriate contingency plan, or your best customer can go belly-up without any warning to you.

Career Management is a serious thing - it can't continue to be the pink elephant in the room we acknowledge only when we are in job search mode.

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