Job Uncertainty – Coping With a Difficult Situation

There is a harsh reality in today’s work force. I am not naturally a cynic nor do I typically have a negative outlook, but experience is a great teacher. Regardless of how good you are at your job, how long you have been with a company, or how much value you bring the table, there are no guarantees. In my career, I saw countless people laid off or fired from their jobs. Job uncertainly affects many in today’s business environment.

In my days in the corporate IT field, I survived several purges where hundreds of people were let go without notice. Sure, it was a time to get rid of some dead weight, but a lot of really good employees were let go too. People who had been with the company for decades. Professionals who were really good at their jobs and loyal to a fault. Many of them had previously passed on other opportunities to stay with the company. It did not matter. It was all about the bottom line.

Job Uncertainty

Job Uncertainty In a Variety of Careers

Your manager may love you, but the people above him or her probably do not know you outside of their organizational chart. Just a generation or two ago, things were different. There was an unspoken contract between a company and its employees. If the employees did a good job, the company would do everything in its power to keep people even during tough times. Now, a small drop in the stock price or a big raise for the executives above you could be the excuse for you losing your job.

Even outside of a corporate environment, no one is immune. I worked for a school district for a number of years. Most employees had an expectation of being there for the rest of their career. The salary was not necessary high in comparison to a private company, but the pension and the benefits made it worthwhile.

I remember talking to so many people who were counting the years to retirement. They would work long enough to be fully vested in their pension so they could maximize their earnings. I wish I had a dime for everyone who told me “You will be fine, you have a lot of skill, and you are well liked. I am sure you will retire out of here.”

No Guarantees These Days

Well, that didn’t work out.  The one lay off I did not survive was at the school district. The majority of employee groups I was working with were becoming outsourcing employees. Besides, I never felt that the new leadership saw the value in the work I did. With those circumstances, the handwriting was on the wall. Thankfully I trusted my instincts. I had a strong suspicion my job was in jeopardy. I was saving all the extra money I could.

Disappointing, but I also felt fortunate. Many of my colleagues got short changed on their pensions and got their benefits cut off. They also had to make an unexpected career change. Many of them were a few short months or years away from retirement. An unplanned career change in your 50’s or 60’s is a terrible thing to have to deal with.

Some of the people ended up with the outsourcing company and were earning a small fraction of what they previously had earned. I would be shocked to ever find an organization where the group is willing to make sacrifices to make sure other people keep their jobs. Now a days, it is every man for himself. Instead of going through the negotiations, hard work, and sacrifice needed, it is just easier to unceremoniously get rid of people.

Protect Yourself With A Savings Plan

I know that sounds tremendously pessimistic, but having seen it happen to so many good people, it is a very real concern. Do you have a form of an emergency fund if you were to lose your job? Start with having a few hundred dollars, but I recommend having at least one month of expenses.
If you are able to save more money and do not mind having it sit in a bank account, feel free to save more. Of course, if you desire a big career move that pays a lot less than you currently make, you need careful planning. As a basic guideline, many financial writers recommend having six months maximum of savings if it is feasible.

It really depends on your budget and how much you bring in on a monthly basis. If you are single, you are on your own to save up the money. However, if you have a partner, and if you can cover most or all of your bills on one salary, you may not feel the need to save up as much.

Whatever you decide on, make sure you have some form of an emergency fund. It is a critical part of basic financial planning. Cash on hand is a way to insure yourself against an unexpected job loss. It is also insurance against a job you can’t stand and need to move on from with some peace of mind.

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