Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Counterintuitive Job Security

It has been noted in a few places that EI was up for the month of March. Obviously, that's not good news, though I can't say whether it's a leading indicator or a lagging indicator of our short run economic prospects.

I will, however, touch on another tangential subject, job security. I have been laid off in the past. I have been in other situations where I have worried about my job security. Before my current job, I was on a three month contract (which wound up lasting for about five months). I know what it's like to have an uncertain employment situation.

Many candidates come before me looking for permanent employment (unfortunately for them, my company deals almost exclusively with contract opportunities). I understand where they're coming from. They like the benefits; they like the permanency; they like the certainty.

Sadly, they're wrong. Permanent positions are lumbering towards extinction. There is no job certainty in a permanent position - termination, lay off, insolvency, any one of them can put the lie to your job certainty.

Contract positions have the same potential pitfalls, but with less risk of befalling any of them. Many of these positions are budgeted for; the money is set aside - the money "exists". (At this point, I should note the at my company deals mainly with government contracts, so I'm sure I have a different vantage point than people in other industries and other cities.) If you sign a 12 month contract, you may not know what you're doing a year from now, but you know what you're doing for the next year. This is certainty.

In today's job market, most people are going to be changing jobs every couple of years, if not more frequently - what is the difference to your career if you have two contract positions within a year or two "permanent" positions. There are certainly pro's and con's to both permanent and contract positions, but when it comes to duration and job security, it's probably a wash.

It may seem incredibly counterintuitive to suggest there is equal or greater job security in contract positions, but many truths are counterintuitive.

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