Guys, I’m currently working my dream job. It’s awesome; the work is stimulating and really allowing me to develop professionally, the team is amazing, the hours are perfect and it is ten minutes from my home. I would happily stay in this post forever.
But the very existence of my job is dependent on outside factors — number of patients at the clinic — and is re-evaluated every six months. I’ve been there five years. The last year in particular has been really really uncertain; I’ve kept my job, but just barely. The next evaluation is looking very grim indeed.
I’ve found ways of dealing with the perpetual anxiety of never knowing if my job will be abolished. Maybe these tips can help others with job uncertainty, like me…
Don’t think too much about the future
Obviously, this is easier said than done. But if I focus on what might or might not happen, I stop concentrating on actually doing my current work right. It all amounts to the old saying about crossing bridges once you get there.
Learn some anxiety managing techniques
I recommend general anxiety managing techniques before bed to stop the endless cycling of “what-ifs” that end in sleepless nights. Breathing techniques, wind-down pilates or yoga, meditation, cardiac coherence, guided relaxation; whatever helps turn your brain off.
Know your worth, professionally
I love my job. The skills I have learned there can be used in another one, if need be. I don’t expect to find the exact same job else-where. But I know I can adapt. Be confident in yourself; take every experience and add it to your bag of tricks. You can draw lessons from even the worst jobs ever.
Don’t over-evaluate your worth, professionally
No-one is indispensable. No-one. Not even you, not even if it seems everything would stop without your priceless input. News flash; it won’t. Teams adapt. Even CEO’s can be replaced.
Don’t take losing your job as a personal failure
You gave it your best effort. It didn’t work out. Professionally, it might feel like the end. But it should not affect your self-worth. You are still a good person. There should be other areas in your life where you cand find accomplishment and a sense of pride. You are not your job, even if it is a large part of your identity.
Don’t take other people’s decisions personally
My job is directly dependent on career decisions made by others. It’s natural to be mad when someone’s decision to reduce their hours means you will end up unemployed. It’s important to keep perspective here: no-one’s career choices revolve around you. The person who is making you lose your job is not doing it purposely to spite you. It does not make them “evil” or a bad person, even if initially you will want to blame them and direct all your anger towards them.
It’s okay to keep an eye out for other opportunities
For some reason, I always feel guilty doing this — as if I am cheating on the current job I have. However, it’s not a lover, it’s a job. And no matter how awesome it is, it is still unreliable.
Have your resume ready at all times
I missed out on a job opportunity because, when I learned of it in the middle of the work-week, I realized I needed to update my resume. By the time I had done that and sent it out, it was too late, and another candidate had already been selected. Man did I kick myself in the butt for that one!
Save a bit, or pay down debt a bit
I struggle to find the right balance here. I know I need a nest egg in case things go south. But I have phenomenal student debt too. Maybe see a financial counsellor to establish your particular priorities.
Find a “happy middle” lifestyle
From past experience, I know that a large part of the misery of being between jobs is caused by lifestyle changes due to budget constraints. If you are used to eating out, traveling, and getting yourself pampered, having to suddenly stop all “fun” things will really affect your morale in the event of job loss. However, when you are employed and you feel like everyone else is vacationing in the Carribbean and going out to lunch every day, you will be miserable if you are too frugal out of fear for the future. Try to find the right balance and stick to it — whether employed or not. That way a change in situation will not completely turn your life upside down and you will feel more in control during the transition.
Set long-term goals, yet be flexible
Planning to buy a house? Have a kid? Specific goals can help you steer straight, financially. And know that it’s okay to put some of them on hold if it doesn’t feel like the right time.
Stay up-to-date in your skill-set
Is there a class you can take to perfect your skills? Complementary work-shops to increase your employability? (And yes, I know it sucks to do this while you are already working. You won’t feel like spending your evenings studying. But I guarantee it is worth it in the long run.)
If you are currently working in a certain field, chances are you will meet others in the same line of work. Treat every contact as though they might lead you to your future job. Don’t ask outright if they are hiring, but be friendly and competent. Chances are they will remember you if you later apply at their company.
So, those are my personal tips. Working an unsecured job is tough, stress-wise. Do you have any tricks to share for job insecurity?