Every job is temporary (whether you realise it or not)
May 23, 2014
Today’s guest post comes from Scott Torrance, the founder of Flux Insights. Loosely labelled as a content marketing consultancy, Flux Insights works with businesses to improve their thinking and share those thoughts in interesting ways to help clients achieve their goals.
Head Resourcing and Flux Insights will be working closely together in the future so expect to see some interesting content in the coming months.
I would class myself as a card carrying member of Generation Flux. We have all heard of Gen X and Gen Y but this is less a demographic designation than a psychographic one. It is a mindset that embraces instability, that tolerates and even enjoys recalibrating careers, business models, and assumptions.
But I have not always been this way inclined.
A few years ago I was working in sales at a local Scottish company and a couple of programmers had been brought in to redesign the user interface for the new product offering. I got chatting to one of the contractors over coffee. Once my knowledge of Silverlight was very quickly exhausted the conversation shifted to the life of a contractor. It turned out that she had no idea what she would be working on after this project or where her next project would be.
At this stage in my career I couldn’t understand how someone dealt with the uncertainty of working in 3, 6 or 9 month engagements and not knowing what was coming next.
Then she said something that really hit home for me:
This statement has stuck with me ever since and this one conversation changed my outlook on the nature of work.
I had always understood the situation from an intellectual point of view but it was only then in that moment that I really started to think about the implications and it changed the choices I made over the coming years. I now dive into the sea of uncertainty with passion and excitement.
At my first session with the management team at Head Resourcing we got to discussing the implications of this and it was a comment by Nick Middleton at Head North that prompted this blog post.
Nick stated that the most secure job in the change IT marketplace at the moment is the UK Asset Resolution Limited (UKAR) which was created to house the bad assets of Northern Rock and Bradford and Bingley that are closing down over the coming 6-7 years. This fact meant that they could offer a clearer future to their staff whereas in many other organisations, reorg and redundancies could happen at any time
What does this mean for job candidates?
While we all know that the idea of a job for life has long been dead in the water, all too often our actions and mindsets haven’t yet caught up to this reality.
Whenever I tell someone that all jobs are temporary they inevitably react emotionally.
Let me be clear— it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are going to lose your job.
It means that the job you are doing now may not even exist; and the skill sets you have worked on may no longer be relevant in 5 years.
That means it is up to you to be looking to the future to disrupt and innovate within your circle of influence.
Simply knowing and accepting the idea that the job you are doing is temporary gives you a great competitive advantage over the vast majority of the workplace. But it is not enough to just know you must translate that knowledge into action.
What you know now is less important than your ability to unlearn old skills and learn new ones.
You must be looking to grow and develop in a purposeful manner.
This can be a terrifying prospect to many. To remain relevant in the marketplace we must be constantly learning and this can be daunting; but it can also be exhilarating and provides a great opportunity. Those who thrive in the next decade will be those who embrace the flux and the chaos.
It means re-assessing and challenging your assumptions about work and your career.
This isn’t an easy thing to do. The vast bulk of our institutions–educational, corporate, political–are not built for flux. Few traditional career tactics train us for an era where the most important skill is the ability to acquire new skills.
The problem is that it is this mind set that sits at the core of innovative and dynamic companies.
While the idea of innovation and creativity has gained some traction in businessland over the past couple of years; traditional firms continue to embrace a management ethos that values efficiency and execution over innovation and creativity.
While businesses look to horde cash and this will play well with shareholders and the stock markets it does not breed an environment where disruptive and innovative products, services and business models are born.
Traditional companies face a conundrum: every policy and procedure that makes them efficient execution machines stifles innovation.
As Steve Blank stated in his recent speech at ESADE, these are the skills that large businesses need more than anything, the ability to re-ignite their DNA for innovation.
Looking forward, we will all play a role in the future of business innovation, whether we help to accelerate it or discourage it.
Keeping this at the forefront of your mind will keep you on your toes and keep you competitive.
Take me back.