When I ask candidates what they are looking for in a new or first job, the answer is always the same: stability. The dictionary says stability is “the quality or state of something that is not easily changed or likely to change.” In our tumultuous employment world – where the rapid evolution of each industry results in increased employer demands and technological advances – stability simply isn’t an option.
In the past, stability in the workplace meant you joined a company, and provided that you demonstrated a strong work ethic and a willingness to learn, they took care of you. They trained you, gave you resources and educational opportunities for personal growth, and groomed you to climb the ranks within their organization, resulting in a decade-long tenure, at minimum. It was a job and a paycheck.
My parents are a perfect example of the “stable career” life. My father was a loyal employee of Ford and my mother of Fisher Price for more than 30 years before retirement. They were both laborers, making a good living and collecting a paycheck based on their work ethic and contribution to their team. If you were lucky, happiness and career fulfillment was a byproduct of the stable career life. Times were different back then, and change did not play the integral role in the job seeking process that it does today. The decision to hire relied on two easy factors: “Can he or she do the job?” And, “Can I afford him or her?” Similarly, job seekers accepted based on whether or not they felt they could perform and if the compensation was sufficient.
Needless to say, the times have changed. With organizations constantly evolving their products and services to keep up with the demands of their customers, competition in the business world is vast. In many cases, mergers, downsizing and outplacement have become common practice in order to survive. Such uncertainty has left the average employee feeling not-so-stable or secure in their positions. Although it has taken on new meaning, career stability is still possible, and it starts with cultivating a mutually beneficial relationship between you and your employer. Today, a job and a career are one and the same, which is why it’s important to choose wisely. Just as you create your own destiny, you create your own career.
Today, stability is founded on a strategic career plan that effectively utilizes your background to achieve your long-term goals. For those of you starting out, it’s crucial that the first organization you join must be within your desired field, add to your skillset, and allow for personal growth. Before accepting a position, ask yourself, “Will this job enhance my background?” and “If I lose my job, will I have new skills to leverage in my next position?” If you can answer yes, you are already on your way to a stable career life. From your first position to your last position, today should be all about building your brand, background and experience towards that end goal.