How much security can you get from your employer?
For most people, that relationship can end at any time, either by your choice or theirs.
Manage your career for the long term.
Career security comes, at least in part, from your own management of your career, and from developing the skills that give you more choice about where, when and how you will work.
Some of these will be the skills you use on the job, like management, web development, project management or customer service.
And you can't make money off those skills unless you can get someone to hire you, so job search skills are also crucial.
Keeping all of these skills honed means that when you need to move up in your current job or find a new one, you'll be able to do it. You'll have more power over your own livelihood. More opportunities, and therefore more choice.
Most of us know this, but we need to be reminded of it.
Work for You, Inc.
Ultimately, you work for You, Inc., which is basically a consultancy that sells work, either within the context of an employment relationship or through self employment. (Does that sound selfish? Actually, it's the best way to create security for your family and to be able to contribute to your community.) Either way, to keep that enterprise thriving, you need to pay some attention to key areas of the business:
Product Research & Development: You and your skills are the product. Is the product remaining competitive in today's market?
Training: Your employer may provide some of the training you need. What are you not learning on the job?
Strategic Planning: Assess your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats: be prepared for highly likely risks such as recessions, layoffs, stagnation and boredom, changes in working conditions or in your health. One such change is inevitable: old age. Will you be able and willing to do the same work you're doing now, when you're 60? 70?
Accounting & Finance: Manage your money as if you can't count on your income always being the same – because you can't. Not having enough savings to get through several months of employment may mean having to take the first offer you get, whether it's the right job for the long run or not. Don't let yourself get in that position if you can possibly help it.
Marketing Communications and Sales: Follow best practices in networking, LinkedIn, resumes, bios, cover letters and so on. Cultivate the kind of online presence and network that takes time to develop and is best built when you don't need it. Build relationships with people who may be able to help you get a job a year from now. Help them out before you need help. Keep a running list of your accomplishments at work, and email it home now and then.
What will it take for you to turn this idea into a set of ongoing, lifetime habits?