Feeling insecure in your job? Get used to it

As someone who makes his living primarily from freelance writing, I sometimes get burned out of the endless hustling to find new assignments, to meet my income numbers each month. Sometimes I wonder if it’d be easier to find a stable, 9-to-5 office job.

But then I remember, there aren’t that many stable office jobs out there.

I was reminded of this last week, when a friend and I took advantage of what promised to be the last warm day before a typically frigid Midwest winter arrives in full force. We were out riding our bikes, when my friend told me that the company he works for — which proofs computer software for hidden glitches — is in danger of losing its biggest client. He also told me that his wife, who works for a large bank, is worrying about her job these days, too. Her department is being swallowed by another at the bank, and there may be a few too many employees once the changeover takes effect.

He was nervous, sure. But he wasn’t panicking. His logic: He and his wife have been lucky. So far, they’ve been spared the economic turmoils so many families are facing today. And, he added, there’s no such thing as a secure, job-for-life anymore. So what’s the point in spending every day worrying about whether you’l have a job tomorrow. If something happens, they’ll deal with it, he said.

That seems to be a healthy attitude to have today. Just look at the recent unemployment numbers released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can read the grim news here, but the gist is that the national unemployment rate in October hit 6.5 percent, a 14-year high. Employers shed 240,000 jobs in the month. When you factor in discouraged workers, those who’ve given up trying to find new jobs, the rate jumps to 11.8 percent. Those are scary numbers.

But as my friend said, you can either spend your days bemoaning these numbers or you can prepare yourself for the truth that, yes, you might lose your job. The best thing to do? Keep that resume’ up to date. Keep your eyes open for other job opportunities. And if something for which you’d be a perfect fit does come up, even though you do have a job, don’t be shy about applying  for it. There are no jobs-for-life. That’s the new reality, and it’s too late now to change that.