My father is going on early retirement this week, after 37 years in the same industry. He changed specialties once in the early 1990s, but remained in the same field. My mother has been working in the same job for 42 years, changing employers only after the first one folded after about 35 years of service there. Both my parents are still in their 50s (yup, they started young. Oh yeah, and I'm 12.) and have lived in the same town their whole lives. Among most my peers, this kind of job security and local consistency is practically unheard of these days. It's neither the norm nor desired. Can you imagine the discussions we had every time I've changed job? And moved countries? Blame it on the generation gap, but we've had little empathy for one another at first. I'm happy my parents are happy, but I'm super happy that my first job isn't going to be my last.
Companies are looking for people who will bring their varied backgrounds to the job. Diversity breeds innovation. Change is constant. It remains to be seen what taking away employees' flexibility will do for your business. Yahoo will find out after June 1st, when no employee will be allowed to work from home anymore. Seems counter-intuitive for a technologies company to insist on face-to-face collaboration, but then again, establishing lasting relationships through email or Skype has its challenges, too.
Many US American States are "at will" employment states. That means there are no employment contracts - neither party commits to taking care of the other beyond the immediate role. If stock prices fall, I know you'll fire me. When the project is done or I've learned enough, you know I'll move on. The internet never sleeps, and my CV is always up-to-date and available on LinkedIn.
So where's the answer? As always, probably somewhere in the middle.
Nobody should have to stay in the same position for 40 years if they don't like it. Compromising your happiness will eventually affect your physical and mental health, so paycheck shmaycheck - get a coach and get you some happy. If you're afraid of change, consider your attitude to taking risks. Do you perhaps try to avoid uncertainty in other life areas as well? Do you like to plan things and know what's going to happen? What can you do in your job search or career change that will make you feel safe and supported?
If you got laid off before you were ready to go, this might be a good time to re-evaluate your path. Were you truly fulfilled or perhaps dragging yourself to work on Monday mornings? What is it that you really want to be doing? Have you ever thought about what your unique gifts and passions might be? Can you maybe even start your own business?
People move to where the opportunities are. In Europe, thousands of young adults from Spain, Italy, Greece, and Portugal now call Germany their home. In the States, mobility has always been a greater factor. Moving between States is easy thanks to the same currency and no border controls. Perhaps if you widen the net of your search, you'll find your dream job just a few miles away.
Image by Tit Bonac, Flickr, Creative Commons License