Take the money, do what you can?

"Over a few drinks, my friends and I compared notes on how many jobs we'd each had in the five years after leaving school or uni and it turned out to be an average of 6! Is that normal?"

For most people it used to be that, when you took a job, you thought of it as an ongoing thing that would last for as long as you felt like staying, or until your lottery numbers would come up. Today the 'job' world is an entirely different place.

The concept of a 'job for life', or even for a few years, seems completely dead, even within the public sector now. Your employment prospects are only as good as next year's financial results. Even if things go well, takeovers and mergers can threaten to cast whole rafts of employees adrift with little notice.

Time for another job-search?

If you personally under-perform it is likely that your prospects will be very limited, and that seems fair enough to most people.

But now it appears that even if you're a very high performing individual there could still be a bullet with your name on it, through no fault of your own. If you're only an average performer, the chances are that your risks are at best random - no better and no worse than the person working next to you.

So why bother trying to do a decent job? Why stretch yourself, get stressed and risk your health? Whatever will happen, will happen, won't it?

Just take the money and do what you can, right?

You could. But then you need another job. How easy will that be to get? Well, the fact is it will be a whole lot easier the more you can demonstrate that you did an excellent job in your last post.

It used to be that a person would train and qualify so that they could do a certain type of job / work for a specific employer / follow a particular career path / work in an interesting field. Employers would plug support, training and HR management into that equation to ensure that they would have access to the best people for the future.

Now, a lot of that has been swept away.

  • Employers expect to pick up already trained / qualified / experienced people. (So who actually trains people now?)
  • They expect to take people on only at the exact point when they need them. (So they need a sizable pool of unemployed people or migrant workers to make this possible?)
  • And they expect to be able to dispense with people at the exact point when they don't need them / things turn bad / they need better short-term financial results. (So they rely on part-timers / job-sharers / short-term contracts / outsourcing more often than not?)

Does that all sound familiar?

Welcome to today's post-industrial society.

So exactly how do you survive, pay rent or a mortgage and bring up a family with near-zero visibility on next month's pay packet?

It used to happen before the industrial revolution.

Individuals would learn a skill or a trade and then take work wherever it was next offered. They would develop a set of 'business' skills, learning how to 'sell' themselves, read the 'market', beat the 'competition' and negotiate their own pay-rates, terms and conditions. That was true whether they were labourers, builders or engineers.

If job-life expectancy continues to be sacrificed in the name of 'corporate flexibility' (and it obviously will) then your only option is to personally invest in yourself.

Learn whatever 'trade' you can, develop your personal skillsets, know how to sell yourself on applications and in interviews, learn how to build your personal reputation and then expect to have to be flexible.

It won't be easy, but at least you'll always be able to get work, even if you can't be certain where it will come from, how much you'll get for it or how long any one job will last.

Any other ideas? (Excluding crime!)

Jon Gregory
Editor, win-that-job.com

For more detail on this subject, read “Winning That Job: A kill or be-killed guide to job-search and interview preparation.” You can pick up it up as an e-book or paperback here on Amazon >>>

Keywords: job search, job hunt, social media, applications, new year resolutions, targeting, searching.


That's all quite thought provoking but quite a scary prospect. I've recently got a job as a fitter with a small engineering company and there's some talk about a takeover by a larger group. I don't know whether that's good or bad for me?
By Terry Blue

Without more info it's hard to say. You really need some news on what the larger company might wish to do with the business at which you are presently working. If they intend to relocate it to Iceland that would obviously not be good news. However, if they want to invest in and expand your business it's great news. If they are going to perhaps rationalise staff then you may or may not be vulnerable, depending upon which areas of the business they want to look at. Try to cconfirm the rumours and ask your manager for information that may be available about the other group and their intentions. It's a fair enough question if there are already rumours about. Good luck. Jon
By Editor