Job Security 101: Make Yourself Indispensable

job security

If you have been interviewing for a new position, you’ve probably asked yourself how much job security each new potential employer can offer.

It’s not a surprising concern, given the turmoil and trauma many professionals endured during the Great Recession of 2009.

But maybe it’s time for a new mindset.

In today’s economy, career experts will tell you that we can no longer expect paternalistic employers to guarantee a stable income for us. With economic uncertainty continuing and marketplaces becoming increasingly global, employers of all sizes are looking for ways to stay nimble, so they can adapt to changing conditions. Rather than add traditional W-2 jobs, they’re increasingly turning to options like hiring part-timers, freelancers and contractors, so they can expand and contract their workforce at will.

A 2013 report by Accenture called “Trends Reshaping HR: The Rise of the Extended Workforce”  found that an estimated 20 to 33 percent of the U.S. work force is now comprised of freelancers, contractors and temps, up from 6 percent in 1989. “Temporary and contract labor is one of the fastest growing line items on corporate operating statements,” the report says. On top of this, Fortune 100 companies have more than doubled their outsourcing contracts since 2000, according to the report, with about 20% of companies reporting they have outsourced or “offshored” workers.

Instead of worrying about how long a potential employer will keep you employed or whether your position will eventually be outsourced to a freelancer or worker overseas, it’s time to refocus on how much you’ll learn in your next assignment that will make you invaluable beyond that one company or organization. Even if you expect to stay with your employer for a long time, you need a Plan B in case things change.

There are many opportunities for skilled professionals to make a great living in today’s economy, if they are willing to embrace a more entrepreneurial, independent mindset and realize that getting a full-time W-2 job isn’t the only way to stay fully employed.

Of course, to be an attractive candidate for such projects, every professional needs to make a continued effort to pick up the skills and knowledge to stay on the cutting edge. Doing this will make you more attractive to potential full-time employers, too. I will explore some of these opportunities in Part 2 of this post.

About the Author

Elaine Pofeldt is an independent journalist who specializes in writing about entrepreneurship and careers. She was a senior editor for Fortune Small Business magazine, and her work has appeared in Fortune, Money,, Inc. and Crain's New York Business, among others.