The four cornerstones of career insurance

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There is more to job security than mastering job search skills. There are plenty of books about resume writing, networking, interviewing and developing a LinkedIn profile. These job search skills are important, but not sufficient in an age when companies and even entire industries are undergoing radical changes. Career insurance fills the void by preparing people for what’s to come—before it arrives.

There are four cornerstones of career insurance; the organizing framework for putting together your own personal Career Insurance plan. These four cornerstones further solidify your survival in the turbulent waters of today’s economy:

  • Embracing adaptation
  • Positioning for the next advance or change
  • Investing in cutting edge skills
  • Tapping into abundant thinking, creativity, and emotional non-attachment

Embracing Adaptation

You must get in touch with your built-in adaptive nature. This means being alert, responsive, and engaged; knowing how to survive in what sometimes feels like the jungle of work, careers, and jobs.

A practical way to assess your adaptive qualities is to ask, write down or record your answers to these questions:

  • How did I overcome obstacles in the past?
  • What lessons can I draw from folks I know and those I don’t about how to bounce back and move forward?
  • Who can I lean on to support me emotionally when it seems as if I cannot or will not climb the summit of change?

Your answers to these questions will put you in touch with your built-in adaptive nature. If adversity is foreign to you, then you probably know others in your life that have stories and secrets to share about how to tap into the resilient spirit that we all have.

Positioning for the Next Advance or Change

A very important skill for career insurance is to predict what type of work is in demand, the supply of talent available to meet that demand, and how to position yourself to fill the gap. This skill will be used consistently throughout your career. 

Self-assessment using surveys and questionnaires as well as soliciting feedback from peers will provide you with most of the information you need to map out these three scenarios: 

  • Your desired career scenario
  • Your most probable career scenario
  • Your nightmare career scenario

Your job is to vividly describe, in writing, the details of each of these three scenarios. After detailing each of the scenarios, determine what decisions and actions you must make while in your current position that will affect you in the short- and long-run in realizing your desired position in your company.

Investing in Cutting Edge Skills

Given the fast paced change in the world of work, it is a good idea to learn new skills to increase your value as an employee. Today, you never really finish learning; if you do, you may find yourself and your career on a dead-end street.

There are costs to learning new skills, yet, there are also benefits. The decision is yours to create or seize an opportunity to learn about skills now in demand in your industry, how to acquire those skills, and how to keep those skills on the cutting edge. Train for skills in demand in the future.

Tapping into Abundant Thinking, Creativity, and Emotional Non-Attachment

Reflect back on a time when you or somebody else could only think of the downside of a situation or viewed the world from the perspective of loss, competition and survival. Those thoughts come from a scarcity thinking mindset. Scarcity thinking triggers fear and anxiety. If you more often than not think in the following way, then you may be suffering from scarcity thinking:

  • My job offer means that somebody else is without a job
  • My raise/promotion means that somebody else gets less of a raise/promotion
  • My acceptance at a training event means that somebody else is robbed of the change to grow and develop

To standout in today’s job market, you have to demonstrate value. Demonstrating value is a two part equation: first, let folks know about your past accomplishments. Second, and most importantly, express what you intend to do in the future. This holds true whether you are seeking another opportunity in your current company or an opportunity outside your company perhaps due to situations beyond your control such as restructuring and downsizing.

Many organizations today are revamping their processes, updating their technology, and offering a different portfolio of goods and services with the same and different consumers. Are you poised to be as flexible as the market demands? Do you find yourself thinking “I’ve got by this long…I’ll be OK?” Or, do you find yourself thinking, “This will be rough initially, but I can see how it will be better in the long-run for me, our customers, and the company.” It is the latter thought that illustrates abundant thinking. Abundant thinking has many benefits including creativity and innovation. After all…somebody had to make up the job of being a webmaster. Why can’t you make up a job based upon a need or opportunity in your company?

Building Your Career Future

The four cornerstones are the foundation of solidifying your job, career, and work future in this new world of work. The good news is that at each point in history when industry underwent radical changes, our ancestors adapted most with grace, poise and optimism.  We seem to be at another inflection point where the exact future is not fully clear. Career insurance is your survival tool. When not distracted by striving to make a living, you can make a difference.

Marty Martin, Ph.D., has been speaking and training nationally and internationally for many years.  His second book, "Taming Disruptive Behavior," will be published by The American College of Physician Executives (ACPE) in 2013. He is currently working on his third book, "Do You Have Career Insurance?" Martin is the director of the Health Sector Management MBA Concentration and Associate Professor in the College of Commerce at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. For more information, go to


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