After enduring a decade bookended by recessions it appears that most people would prefer a marathon stretch with one employer rather than a series of short sprints with many companies. A recent survey of 22,000 employees by HR consulting firm Towers Watson, reveals that on-the-job advancement now takes a back seat to a growing desire for workplace security and stability. The goal of being a free agent may be limited to professional athletes going forward, with eight out of 10 respondents saying they want to settle into a job, while roughly half say they want to work for a single company their entire career and the rest wanting to work for no more than two to three companies Although the employee sentiments come as no surprise, it's not easy to find a secure work situation these days. So besides going to work for the government and keeping your technical skills up-to-date, what else can IT professionals do to find job security?
  • Prioritize security over opportunity: Pass on opportunities that may offer higher pay but greater risk. IT professionals have historically jumped at jobs that pay more, because they weren't worried about finding another opportunity. But six months of unemployment can quickly wipe out several years of higher wages, so stay put if your job is secure.
  • Acquire non-technical skills: Contrary to popular belief, layoffs are not limited to poor performers. Managers often evaluate employee competencies and eliminate employees who don¿t have the skills to succeed in the future. Since IT professionals need to invest time and energy to acquire new technical skills, reading a book on emotional intelligence or business communications can help you steadily improve your skills and increase your job security. Study with a learning partner so you can benefit from reciprocal coaching and motivation.
  • Connect with a "well-placed" mentor: Although a mentor can help you grow professionally, having a relationship with an influential company manager can increase your job security. Strategically select a prominent mentor who enjoys tremendous job security and ride on his or her coattails.
--Leslie Stevens-Huffman