How Safe is My Job?

By Celeste Stewart

Though the Great Recession officially ended in June 2009, the recovery is painfully slow. Even if your job survived, it could be on shaky ground. Prospects for many occupations are uncertain, with serious declines in job growth predicted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In today’s business climate, few jobs are completely safe.

Three Signs that Your Job is at Risk

  1. Low job growth predictions – The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) regularly projects ten-year growth for hundreds of occupations. If your field is expected to grow more slowly than average – or worse, decline – your job may not be safe. It may be time to consider a career change. Among the fastest declining occupations reported by BLS are: textile workers, file clerks, order clerks, U.S. Postal Service sorters/processors/ machine operators and desktop publishers.
  2. Widespread technological or consumer behavior changes affecting your industry – From sophisticated equipment that diagnoses and repairs car problems to the massive move from traditional to digital publishing, technology and consumer behavior can affect your occupation. Do you suddenly have more time on your hands at work? Notice fewer customers buying your employer’s products? Your job isn’t as safe as it once was.
  3. A merger in the works – Mergers often result in job losses due to duplication. After all, it doesn’t make sense to have two marketing directors, two human resources directors or two front office receptionists. If you fill a one-of-a-kind position at a company that’s merging with another, you have a 50-50 chance of losing your job.

Where Some See Risk, Others See Opportunity

If you’ve determined that your job is not safe, you have two choices: wait and see what happens or take proactive measures to improve your prospects. Each of the three warning signs above has a flip side. What do you see in each one, risk or opportunity?

  • Low job growth predictions – The opposite of low job growth is high job growth. Among the fastest growing occupations reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2008 to 2018 are biomedical engineers, network systems and data communications analysts, home health aides, personal and home care aides and financial examiners. Moving from a declining occupation to a growing one could be a smart career move.
  • Widespread technological or consumer behavior changes affecting your industry – Just as technology and consumer behaviors can affect an occupation, it can also create new opportunities. According to former U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley, the top 10 in-demand jobs in 2010 may not have existed in 2004. For example, any position having to do with social media wouldn’t have existed until recently.
  • A merger in the works – It’s understandable to be nervous about your job when a merger is impending. Now’s the time to sharpen your skills and redefine your role, making you even more valuable than before. For instance, if you’re the director of marketing, can you expand your skill set to include social media marketing? If so, you may have an edge over your competition. Whether you keep your job or are let go, your updated skill set could set you apart in the job market.

Is it time to switch careers or update your skills? An online degree program could make the difference, allowing you to complete your studies while continuing to work full-time. Explore your options today and be prepared.

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