private sector job security

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bb
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private sector job security

Post by bb »

Although I have never been unemployed it is something that concerns me.
The main concern I have is being layed off at an age where I will not be
able to find a job. My question is does this mean you should be much more
pro-active with regards to career, making strategic moves, etc. or more
or less conclude there is not a whole lot you can do about it so try not
to worry about it and deal with it when it happens? What's more realistic?
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JeremiahS
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Post by JeremiahS »

I think it means save more because you never know when you'll need the money you've put aside. Everyone I know who's lost a job in the past 2 years has been under 30 or over 50. I've started assuming people under 30 need to start holding larger emergency funds and most people need to have enough put aside to retire on by 50.

The moral here: Don't plan for what you want to happen. Plan for those worst case scenario’s that have a have probability of happening.
FinanceGeek
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Post by FinanceGeek »

You are correct to be concerned. I would modify what the previous poster said to say that in my experience people of all ages lost jobs in the last year, but it was those under 30 or over 50 who have had the most trouble finding another position.

In many fields it is very difficult for the inexperienced. And, there is diminishing or even negative returns on experience beyond a certain point. It does get to be quite difficult to get re employed at 50+. Age discrimination is definitely part of it, older folks are seen as more expensive and may not have as much recency in their skillsets.

I tend to focus on maximizing my value to my current employer, if that involves gaining additional skills I do it. The additional skills will also be of value generally should my job end...
Topic Author
bb
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Post by bb »

I think living below your means and having savings are obvious
strategies in case of unemployment. I guess my question is
are there any strategies which would make it substantially less
likely to be layed off say in your 50's. For example, make sure
you are a manager instead of a worker bee? Make sure you
achieve some sort of career advancement by a certain age, etc.
Or is trying to figure this out not realistic?
chaz
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Post by chaz »

Safety comes with owning your own business.
Chaz | | “Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons." Woody Allen | | http://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/index.php/Main_Page
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stevewolfe
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Post by stevewolfe »

As long as you keep your customers or provide service that retains it's value over time. My brother owns his own business while I work in the corporate world. Each has it's pluses and minuses.
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stevewolfe
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Post by stevewolfe »

bb wrote:I think living below your means and having savings are obvious
strategies in case of unemployment. I guess my question is
are there any strategies which would make it substantially less
likely to be layed off say in your 50's. For example, make sure
you are a manager instead of a worker bee? Make sure you
achieve some sort of career advancement by a certain age, etc.
Or is trying to figure this out not realistic?
My experience has been that layoffs aren't always rational, thoughtful events and that, while the things you suggest may work, that it wouldn't have been sufficient to save your job in some of the layoffs I've seen happen around me over the years.

For example, in one case each team was told to cut X people. So it didn't matter if you had a very productive team or a very weak team - they lost equally. In another case, a local company actually left go their entire DBA staff - woops - some folks were called back immediately.

That said, the best advice is stay current in your field, do your job competently and try not to make a lot of enemies in decision making positions. Other than that, live below your means and as you get older and feel more at risk, maybe bump up your emergency funds as you deem appropriate.
chaz
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Post by chaz »

stevewolfe wrote:As long as you keep your customers or provide service that retains it's value over time. My brother owns his own business while I work in the corporate world. Each has it's pluses and minuses.

Very true. Nothing is perfect, but the business owner will not be laid off.
Chaz | | “Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons." Woody Allen | | http://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/index.php/Main_Page
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dm200
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Re: private sector job security

Post by dm200 »

bb wrote:Although I have never been unemployed it is something that concerns me.
The main concern I have is being layed off at an age where I will not be
able to find a job. My question is does this mean you should be much more
pro-active with regards to career, making strategic moves, etc. or more
or less conclude there is not a whole lot you can do about it so try not
to worry about it and deal with it when it happens? What's more realistic?
yes, you are correct to think about this, and plan accordingly.

I find myself now older and seeking employment. Not fun.
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norookie
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Post by norookie »

Alot of good posts here. I'd second staying current with everything you can in your field, particulary your job's future progression and expectations that will be ever changing. Owning your own business has it's pro's and con's. it certainly keeps you busy and on your toes! Plus the more income streams you have the better but thats obvious! Good Luck!
" Wealth usually leads to excess " Cicero 55 b.c
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VictoriaF
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Post by VictoriaF »

Victoria
Last edited by VictoriaF on Wed Feb 23, 2011 12:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.
downshiftme
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Post by downshiftme »

Some layoffs have been related to business, like closing entire product lines or letting whole teams go. Not much you can do about that unless you can work on profitable business lines.

Some layoffs have been performance related, like reducing costs by 10% so let the lowest 10% performers go. This you can guard against somewhat by being very good at what you do, keeping skills current and being as useful to your employer as possible.

Some layoffs are cost driven, but end up doing things like letting go the most expensive workers possibly replacing them with lower costs either now or sometime in the future. This can be avoided by not being overpaid for what you do, but that's difficult to do in practice except by trying to do the best you can at what you do.

Some layoffs are political, which is highly dependent on the person making the decision. To avoid this you need to be in the "good" crowd or at least in the good graces of the person who makes these decisions. This can be tricky, since knowing in advance who will be in position to make such a power play may not be obvious. Good luck.

Some layoffs are illegal purges of older workers and there's not much you can do about that except never grow old.

Some layoffs are related to outsourcing. If your function is on the list, you may be unable to influence the decision. If you can make yourself indespensible or do something unique, you may be somewhat insulated. Doing lots of things somewhat well doesn't seem to be effective preventing this, but doing a single specific and essential thing does seem to help. There's risk however if the perceived value of the "essential" sevice you provide changes, you may move to the top of the next list quickly.

Having good marketable skills and the financial resources to weather a layoff if it does happen seems like the most prudent plan.
tim1999
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Post by tim1999 »

The only layoff at my company in the last 5 years, and it was a big one, got rid of the following types of people:

1. Most people who were under age 55 yet were accruing benefits under the old pension plan that was closed to new employees 20 years ago.
2. Managers who were known as "bullies" "slave drivers" or "empire-builders."
3. Bottom 5% of the workforce, people who had no idea what they were doing, people who surfed the internet all day, people who screwed up and cost the company large sums of money, etc.
4. People with poor attitudes, the ones always complaining about everything and everyone. And the people who were running around spreading negative gossip about the upcoming layoffs!
5. Those who weren't willing to accept change in their jobs, people who hadn't upgraded their skills since the 1980s. Like those people who always write one-sentence emails in all-caps.
6. One layer of middle management (people who managed several managers but had a VP above them) was removed entirely.

An early retirement payout was offered to everyone 55+ before the layoffs occured, so anyone with a brain went for it. Most of those who didn't take it were axed anyway and received a lesser severance.

This was a company where you used to be pretty much guaranteed a "job for life" if you didn't cause any problems, but those days are over.
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VictoriaF
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Post by VictoriaF »

Victoria
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VictoriaF
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Post by VictoriaF »

Victoria
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tibbitts
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Post by tibbitts »

chaz wrote:
stevewolfe wrote:As long as you keep your customers or provide service that retains it's value over time. My brother owns his own business while I work in the corporate world. Each has it's pluses and minuses.
Very true. Nothing is perfect, but the business owner will not be laid off.
That is not correct. The odds of a business owner being "laid off" are astonomically higher than for an employee. It's just that the terminology is different. Most new businesses fail; the odds are someone will fail many times before starting a successful business.

It's obvious that if you keep your customers and provide valuable services you'll stay in business, but the odds are you won't, for the same reasons that you become marginalized in the W2 employment world. Your skills and your energy fade; technology changes and your service becomes irrelevant; your customers go bankrupt. In fact, you could argue that there's another layer of buffering in the W2 world that benefits employees.

Paul
tim1999
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Post by tim1999 »

VictoriaF wrote: That's actually pretty good -- and unusual. My experience has been that managers in your categories 2 and 6 were making lay-off decisions, and the results were suboptimal.
You're right, that's the way past firing/small-scale layoff decisions had been made at the company. This time was different because outside consultants (think "the Bobs" from the Office Space movie) were brought in.
VictoriaF wrote: I would not immediately accuse those who stayed in being brainless. Some of these people may have had a near-term break-even point, e.g., if they worked for another year, they would get as much in pension as if they left immediately; if they worked for two years they would be ahead. Unfortunately for them, they were terminated before the break-even point, but that does not invalidate their estimates.
That's true, "brainless" is not a good way of saying it. Actually I think the reason why many did not take the package was that they thought they were "too good" at their jobs or too respected/liked by their peers to be on the layoff radar. Problem was that their peers were not making the layoff decision this time, and many of their peers/managers were getting the ax as well.
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topper1296
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Post by topper1296 »

I've thought about this myself. I'm in my mid 30's and have been through 3 layoffs. The last one was last March (I was notified the day after my birthday my position was being eliminated) and the company after 9 months realized they cut too far and too deep, so they hired me back with a promotion (I was the only person they hired back out of about 15 people in what was once our accounting/finance department).

Here is one aspect I would like to hear others input on. Would a professional certification(s) be better than a graduate degree? Would a CPA or CMA, for example, that keeps up with CPE be better for job security than an MBA or other graduate degree from 10-15 years ago?
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VictoriaF
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Post by VictoriaF »

Victoria
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tibbitts
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Post by tibbitts »

VictoriaF wrote:
topper1296 wrote:Here is one aspect I would like to hear others input on. Would a professional certification(s) be better than a graduate degree? Would a CPA or CMA, for example, that keeps up with CPE be better for job security than an MBA or other graduate degree from 10-15 years ago?
Apart from a universal (and useless) answer 'it all depends' I can provide some opinions.

A college degree is necessary, a graduate degree is highly desired, and if either of the schools is in top 10 it matters. As ever more people are getting college education, as a credential it becomes inflated, and one has to distinguish himself clearly from those who got degrees by correspondence, in easy majors, etc. Once you have the appropriate college background, a second Masters' degree or a Doctorate after the age, e.g., of 40, are not going to impact your career much. They may be nice for other reasons; I have a colleague who started a PhD program at the age of 60.

While academic degrees signal (to use Valuethinker's reference to Michael Spence's job-market signaling model) one's abilities after being screened and confirmed by universities -- certificates tell the employer that the employee has practical skills and some experience of applying them. Some certificates are better than others. For example, Cisco Certified Internetworking Engineers (CCIE) used to be deities; now there are just too many of them. I got CCNA eight years ago, which was orders of magnitude easier than CCIE, but the cost-to-benefit ratio (in my case) was higher.

I recently completed another certification and am finishing still another one. With the number of courses I will have taken for these two certifications I could have received a second MS degree from the same university. However, I decided that in my situation two certifications would be more powerful.

Victoria
Technical certifications are very valuable for a year or two; then they're almost completely worthless. Many certifications require complete recertification when a new release or version of a product the certification is based on is released; you can't just do continuing education or something to maintain the certification. So they aren't really something you can plan to stockpile years ahead of needing them.

Paul
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