Is the notion of job security an outdated one?

I’ve been listening to Robert T. Kiyosaki tapes (Choose to be Rich), and he mentions some rather interesting, if surprising, ideas.

One of them deals with the notion of job security. He says that basically this was an ideal that has been passed over to us through the industrial age. In the “old days”, you’d go to school, get trained for a particular technical profession, work for a particular company all your life and then retire. It was the obligation of the company to take care of you after that.

I take it to mean that there was a more stable job market then as opposed to now. If you got a job in those days, chances are you’d fill the space for the rest of your life.

But he says times have changed. We’re now in the information age, where the old notions no longer apply. It’s a far more volatile market, with jobs aplenty, however this also brings with it rather chaotic behaviour.

He goes on to say that this effectively means that you can no longer rely on your job to pay you da bucks once you retire (or stop working).

Hence it’s more advisable to learn how to invest and start a business.
How accurate is this idea? Does it really project the realities of the trends of the global market? Is “security” no longer a term that you can use to denote a profession?

See I had always thought of starting a business as extremely risky, and a “stable” job as the only real safe secure way of earning dependable income (i.e. the cheque coming through the mail every month).

However, this guy says it’s no longer a valid opinion in the NEW global market of the information age.

Well, there’s just too many people in the world and they all insist on having an opinion, and acting upon it. This means job security, along with a billion other things is a concept that is almost entirely gone. If you find a company that has allegiance to the employees, good for you. How do you know that it is going to stay that way? It’s not run by a single person and his/her values, but rather by a board of directors and shareholders.

I guess what I’m trying to say that the only way to survive a mix of capitalism and democracy is to fight as hard as you can for everything and anything and not take anything for granted.

Just MHO:

Yes, there is no job security; well, very little. Some jobs, it’s more difficult to get “let go” from. A person with lots of seniority in a civil service job is relatively safe, although in times of layoffs he may end up in different job or location. In New Jersey, a tenured teacher in a field such as mathematics, science or special education would have to do something awfully bad to get fired. Also other fields where there is a shortage – I imagine you’d have to be a quite incompetent nurse to be fired.

But working for an ordinary private-sector corporation? Most that I know of, you can be fired because of cutbacks in the overall number of employees, or because somebody decided they don’t need your particular skill set, or pretty much for no reason at all, as long as it’s not because of overt discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, etc.

In my observation, there is little to be gained by being overly loyal to a particular company, department, or boss. Chances are that within a year you’ll have been transferred, or your boss will be, or they’ll “reorganize” the department.

I am not really sure that there was ever a golden age when everyone was treated fairly and you could count on having your job for life. Certainly in times past, especially in non-union shops, you could be let go because the person in charge didn’t like the color of your skin, or because he’d decided there were too many Irish in the place, or whatever. I also remember great huge layoffs and a “recession” in the '50s, and lots of folks were jobless through no fault of their own.

I would never expect a corporation to be loyal to me; nor would I ever dream of applying the concept of loyalty to a corporation. I think most people of my generation (Xers, I’m 30) are of the same opinion. Take what you need from a company and ditch it without another thought – its no more or less than what the company will do to you.

Job security? It is to laugh. It strikes me as naive to imagine such a thing exists in this day.

I work in a union industry that’s still in the old industrial lifer mode. I’m very aware of how lucky I am to not have the stress of wondering if I’ll have a job next week or next year.

In fact, at 35 with 11 years in the same job, I’m the odd one out of my circle of friends. Everyone else is still switching up jobs every couple of years, or trying to run a business, but none of them have any expectations of being in the same place 20 years from now or having any sort of retirement benefits or pension.

So, yes, I think the idea of working for the same company until retirement is pretty outdated.

I don’t know anyone my age (24) that has any expectations of getting a job at a big company and sticking with it through retirement. What I do know is people that have been hired on to large companies as long-term temp workers and four-season seasonals. Even government agencies are relying on temp labor- I worked at one that was half “temp” labor, from the secretaries right up to the managers. Most this “temp” labor had worked their for years.

The benefits of short term labor for companies are multifold. They don’t have to offer the health care, retirement benefits and other perks that they offer their “real” employees. They can lay them off or cut their hours without an once of guilt or bad press. They can overhire and simply ration hours to make sure that their labor costs are as low as possible. The job market is still tight enough that people will hold on to a job for as long as they have it- especially if they think it is going to disappear one day and they need to save for a period of unemployment. There really arn’t any drawbacks.

Of course, starting a business is still a risk, too. It’s not like the benefits of starting a business have increased to fill the void left by the bad state of labor. It’s simply worse to be a worker now than it was fifty years ago. The only thing you can do is hope the periods of unemployment are short, try to learn something you can freelance to fill the gaps, and save on your own the best you can.

I don’t think there is such a thing as genuine job security any more, outside of a strong union environment where seniority is king. And that’s assuming you’re the one with seniority, of course. And the company isn’t sold, taken over or failing.

I’d agree with Kiyosaki to the extent that the closest thing to security is investment in yourself, but I sure wouldn’t stretch that to starting a business. Constantly building skills, staying aware of possiblities and being willing to take risks comes the closest, though I wouldn’t call it ‘security’ exactly. More like best-chance, maybe.

Starting a business, any business, is risky as hell. It takes a helluva lot of hardheaded planning, and then the real fun of financing starts. Nobody should try it who isn’t prepared to pour every cent they have or can borrow into the business, then be prepared to work horrendous hours. And then carry the business that way for at least a year or more until the business can start paying back. It takes a lot of grit, sweat and hardheaded business savvy. Once it’s profitable, then the next stage of competition really kicks in. Secure it ain’t.

Nice idea, but way too simplistic. Though it’s probably made some bucks for Kiyosaki by selling the tapes.


My mom and I have chewed this one to pieces between us. She’s of the old-school, get-a-job-and-stay-there-for-40-years-then-retire mindset. She’s lived in a railroad town all her life. When Conrail was sold off for scrap (well, they didn’t put it that way but that’s the way it shook down) to Norfuckup-Southern and my dad (for the first time in 30 years) found himself worrying about what he was going to do once they shut down the shops, she had no anchor on the situation at all. She just couldn’t comprehend it (neither could my dad…I really think the stress of the whole thing contributed to the heart attack that killed him). She’s STILL of the opinion that the fact that I worked for five different companies in the last ten years shows a lack of character on my part. I’ve tried to explain to her that the days of settling your butt in a seat and staying there forever were long over. We go around about it occasionally still, but I think my dad’s death and all the job stuff surrounding it took the fight out of her. :frowning:

As far as I know, the only time in Spain when you would work for the same job your whole life was if you were an indentured servant in the Middle Ages, and even then, people could go to a “free town” and find a new master. That and government jobs.

5 of my great-grandparents were employed at some point, and all of them changed jobs several times. Of the other 3, one was a landowner, the remaining 2 were female and never got employed.

You can most certainly work your whole career in Federal Government, as long as you keep your nose relatively clean. Utilities and State/County Government is also relatively secure. I’m a contractor, but my plan is to go Gov and put in about 20 years until I retire.

Yeah, what Tveblen said.

Invest in yourself and be willing to work hard for what you want. Life can throw a wrench in your plans at any moment, so it is a good idea to be flexible and accept that change will happen. I have started my own businesses before - they ain’t no fun sometimes. And I certainly didn’t have any ‘security’ - losing a major client, getting sick, etc would have shut me down. There is no security.

But you can try to prepare yourself for adversity - save up a nest egg (shoot for 6 months of rent and food and job search money), take advantage of company trainings and seminars, occasionally go to some professional conferences or meetings for the networking, go get that degree you always wanted, etc.

If you want to start your own company, make a plan, then add about 20% for ‘learning curve costs’ (things you never thought you would have to spend money on) and prepare to be broke for the first couple of years. If you do better than that, whoo-hoo, but if you don’t…well then you are at least prepared for the long haul.

Never get complacent and you’ll probably do fine at whatever you choose.


I work for an insurance company. I’m 25 and have worked 4 or 5 jobs since graduating college, always looking for a better offer, more money, closer building, etc. I got this job at an insurance company where people don’t really quit. One lady just retired after 50some years of service… it was the only job she ever had. The company pride themselves on never having laid anyone off (although they’ve fired a few since I’ve been here). They provide a pension in addition to 401K matching.

They really do make the average employee feel very appreciated and welcome. The amount of people who work here for a year or 2 then quit is very, very small. Most people I work with have been here 15, 20, 30 years and counting, and they’re still happy for the most part.

Companies like this are rare these days, I imagine. People around here take their job security very seriously.

And I hope they are able to bank on it. I contracted at a company with a similar history. 100 years as a family owned business. Job for life. Took good care of its people. Finally the last owner didn’t have anyone in the family with an interest in it. He sold it to a competitor, who laid off anyone redundant. The guys in the plant still had jobs. Everyone I worked with got a pink slip.

Companies have lifespans - just like people do. If you get really lucky, you can start your career with a company on the upside of its lifespan - and find one that values loyalty and may even give you a defined benefit pension. And if you are unlucky, the company will be on the downside and lay you off when you are 52 or you’ll retire at 65 and discover there is no money for your defined benefit pension.

You need to take care of yourself. Even companies with the best intentions can’t commit to taking care of you.

Job security has been a dead issue in most sectors for at least 25 years. It really had a fairly short life. The booming post-war (that’s WWII) economy + strong unions gave a lot of people a good deal, for a while. Too bad it wasn’t sustainable; competition’s a bitch.

When I first entered the work force, interestingly, although job security was a dead letter, companies still wanted loyal employees. I was in the oil industry, and I remember people like Michel Halbouty being very big on this. It was really irritating (although Halbouty himself actually did take pretty good care of his employees).

I don’t have job security as such. I know that Jane from HR can drop by my desk at any moment with a box for my stuff and an envelope containing a severance package.

I really don’t expect that, though. What I do here is considered deadly serious and vital to the existence of the company. All those news stories you see about some bank losing data tapes containing 200,000 customers’ records, or some credit card processor being broken into and upwards of 4 million cards being compromised? My department is in charge of making sure our name isn’t in any of those.

One of my immediate co-workers has been here for 37 years. Someone else in the department has been here for 45 years. Longevity is the rule, rather than the exception at this company.

However, there is no guarantee that management’s not going to say “Your job is being moved to Arizona. You’re welcome to follow it.” They have done this in the past with other groups. I can only hope that they learned a lesson from the last time they did this to the group that manages LAN and email IDs. There was a huge and damaging disappearance of knowledge when they failed to account for how much day-to-day information is in people’s heads and not written down.

So expect for your department to get ISO 9001 certified, then asked to relocate or be outsourced. :slight_smile:

This agrees with Stephen Pollan in his book “Die Broke.” He says the age of job security and a definied benefit (annuity or pension) happened during the age of our parents. What we’re seeing now is a return to the age of our grand and great-grand parents.