Have you heard the myth of a safe secure job? Are you on a hunt for one?
Growing up my parents told me that I needed to get good grades, so that I can get into a college. I needed college education, so that I can get a good, safe, secure job. My task after that was to keep my job and collect my benefits. They told me to keep my head down and be agreeable. And finally, I need to put a little bit of my money away into savings, so that I can retire one day.
It is quite possible that you were told the exact same thing.
I didn’t like the formula I was given. And perhaps you don’t either! Further, I discovered that the formula is broken!
The idea of working 40+ hours per week, for 40+ years, so that I can maybe someday retire and barely make ends meet was incredibly depressing to me. It still is.
The idea to trade the best years of my life, the best hours of my day, and the best ideas I have, for pennies, seems like a loosing proposition. Definitely not something that motivates or drives me.
In addition, are jobs really safe or secure?
It is time to debunk the myth!
We Don’t Stay Long Enough
At the age when my parents were young, there was a thing called safe and secure job. A person would join a workforce and likely stay with the same company for 50 years. They would retire, get a gold watch, and be sent home with a nice pension plan. This plan had healthcare too and combined this would take care of them for the next 5-10 years, until they pass.
Well, a lot has changed since my parents were young.
From technology to average lifespan and everything in between. Most of us don’t keep the same job for 50 years. Heck, most of us don’t even stay within the same career over our lifetimes.
It is estimated that we change our career 5 to 7 times, over our lifetime. So, if you are working 50 years, that means that roughly every 8-10 years you will be in an entirely different career!
This means, that most of us are not in the career long enough to climb that corporate ladder. Instead, we leap from ladder to ladder, hoping we get fulfilled and magically move on up.
Sometimes we do. Sometimes we don’t.
It’s all like a giant game of shoots and ladders!
So that’s one problem with the job piece. We just don’t stay long enough.
Safe, Secure Job Is Gone
Second piece that has seemed to get out of style is a gold watch. Heck, both gold and a traditional watch seem to be out of style altogether, but that is a completely different post.
Third challenge is the actual concept of the job security. Which, if we are to be completely honest and blunt, doesn’t exist.
Take a look around. Not a single job is safe these days.
Companies come and go and with them, jobs. To save on labor costs or taxes, corporations are willing to relocate. And who is to blame them.
We all want the $5 t-shirt and a $20/hour job to make that same t-shirt. The math simply doesn’t add up!
If the company doesn’t relocate, it may decide to downsize and reduce expenses. Entire departments and positions are eliminated. And again, you can blame the business owner. It won’t help. But it might make you feel better, for a moment, to have someone to point your finger towards.
Let’s look at it from the business perspective.
You are hemorrhaging blood from your left leg. Doctor says “cut it off and you live or keep it and you die!”
What would you do?
Most would say “amputate immediately doc and save a life”. That is exactly what the business does. It sacrifices a limb to preserve a life.
So, they eliminate 100 jobs to preserve 1,000. For those 100 souls, that have found themselves unemployed, it’s irrelevant why the company did it. What it means for them is that their source of income has dried up. They have to figure out, fast, how to keep the roof over their heads and food on the table.
The Government Jobs
Even government jobs do not seem to be what they once were. Those use to be the most prestigious jobs you can land. The pay is great and you get more days off than Santa Claus himself. Oh and benefits can last a lifetime, if you land the right position.
But, over the last few years, we’ve had more government shut downs than we’d like to admit. They come and go for different reasons. The individuals employed in the government sector, find themselves without pay. Sometimes they don’t even need to bother to show up to work. While other times, they are expected to be on time and do the job, with one tiny exception: no pay.
Yup, they work for free. Until the powers to be, decide to open things back up. Then they get their back pay. Without interest, in case you were wondering.
And you bills during that time? Well, those must be paid, of course. And on time, if you want to avoid penalties and interest.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that AI is out there. I don’t mean “out there” like they are about to hunt you down (at least not yet!). I mean that technology and robots are being used more and more, each day.
Nearly every industry in the world is being impacted and changed by it.
And if you think that you can compete with it, think again.
Think about it from the business owners’ perspective. You have a human that can only work a few hours per day. This human has needs, wants higher pay. They get sick and want a vacation. To improve their productivity you have to motivate them and train them consistently.
On the other hand, you have a machine that can work 24 hours per day. It does not want food or water. The machine doesn’t need a raise or a sick day. You pay for it once and with occasional update, it’s ready to work around the clock.
I’m not saying it’s perfect or that I like it. It’s a reality of what’s happening.
We are being replaced by machines we cannot keep up with.
Pension Are Things Of The Past Too
Now my favorite myth of them all with safe jobs – pensions.
As you likely know, these do not exist any more. And in a few places where they do, the money is quickly drying up and the benefit is going away.
There are still employers and countries that offer this to their employees, but this is going away fast.
In America, this has just about completely disappeared. The exception are some public and municipal jobs (basically government). But those will go away soon. And many individuals, who have been “paying into it”, will find themselves short-changed, years before their retirement… when it’s all but too late to do something about it.
But let’s understand what pension is (was).
Business would put some money aside and invest in your behalf for each year that you worked there. At the end of your employment, they would send you a pension check for as long as you live. Pretty nice gig, huh?
Well the gig is no longer available. And the dream is quickly turning into nightmare for many who banked on it.
The New Retirement Model
For those who do not have this as an option, the only way to save up for retirement is the IRA (Individual Retirement Account). A process, by which you have to be disciplined enough to put some money away on consistent basis. Then you have to invest in (predominantly) paper assets (hopefully well). And finally comply with a mandatory withdrawal, at some point in the future. It is a mandatory withdrawal and you do not have a choice. You must take a set amount of money out, regardless of how you feel or your needs.
And even though, most of us will agree that there is no such thing as a safe, secure job, we all still buy (and keep selling to our kids) the myth of go to school, get good grades so that you can have a safe, secure job.
We are so sold into this myth that we willingly and excitedly borrow insane amounts of money and saddle ourselves and our kids with the worst kind of debt only to get into those schools and get that education that will give us anything BUT the safe, secure, well paying job.
Einstein’s quote on insanity comes to mind right about now!
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