Ideally, your career will allow you to work and make good money for decades to come, carrying you from young professional to retiree without many obstacles in between. But the reality is, there are many ways your career can take unexpected turns or become disrupted, leaving you without a viable income stream.
Obviously, you can always pick up a different job or transition to a different career. But it’s better if you can anticipate the potential threats to your existing career – and mitigate those risks before they have a chance to affect you.
The Biggest Threats to Your Career
These are some of the biggest career threats to prepare for:
1. Disability. If you face a long term disability, you may be unable to work. A single injury or sudden illness could make it impossible to continue pursuing your full-time career. This can happen anytime to anyone, so it’s not something predictable or easy to prevent. However, you can invest in long-term and/or short-term disability insurance – policies designed to replace your income if you ever lose your job because of a disability.
2. Shrinking demand. You may also find yourself without a job if there’s a sudden shrinkage in demand for the position. If your company no longer finds your role valuable, or necessary, they may be forced to cut you to save money. There isn’t much you can do to prevent this, aside from making yourself as versatile as possible so no matter what, at least some of your skills will be in demand.
3. AI/machine learning. It’s estimated that by 2030, up to 800 million jobs around the world could be replaced by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. These threatened jobs include not just predictable, routine manual labor, but also highly skilled, white-collar occupations. Jobs previously thought to be unreplaceable are now faced with the potential for automation. The best way to navigate this hurdle is to prepare for it directly; adopt new skills and responsibilities that aren’t easy to automate, and be prepared to work with technology as it arrives in your industry.
4. Changing needs. Some people lose jobs due to the changing needs of their employer (or changing conditions in the market). You can’t fight against a changing paradigm, but you can make yourself more adaptable. If you notice major changes unfolding, don’t push back against them; instead, go with the flow and change yourself to accommodate these changes.
5. Inability to adapt. Similarly, some careers are lost due to refusal to adapt. Your industry may begin working differently without warning, leveraging new technology or following new standards. If you want a chance to continue in this career path, you need to be prepared to change with them.
6. Burnout. Millions of people underestimate the impact of professional burnout. If you get sick of your job or are so stressed you can’t think straight, your career is practically dead. You have to work proactively here, noticing the signs of burnout, taking extra time off, and finding new ways to relieve stress.
7. Reputation damage. In some industries, a bad reputation can make it nearly impossible to find a new job. Guard yourself against reputation damage by holding yourself to strong moral and ethical principles, professionally networking, and taking accountability for any mistakes you make along the way.
General Ways to Guard Against Threats
In addition to the strategies listed above for specific career threats, there are several generalist strategies that can keep you well-protected:
· Create multiple streams of revenue. Losing a job won’t make much of an impact if you’re already making money from multiple different sources. Picking up a couple of side gigs can help you make hundreds or even thousands of dollars per month. And income from investments, like dividends or rental income, could nearly replace your full-time salary if allowed to grow.
· Continue learning and growing. Don’t let yourself become stagnant. Continue advancing your skills, learning new things, and adapting to new technologies and market conditions. The more adaptable you are, and the more you keep growing, the more options you’ll have.
· Create a backup plan. Don’t wait to experience a tragedy before you think about alternatives. Create a career backup plan now, speculating about alternative jobs that could serve you equally well in the future.
There’s no such thing as a perfect or untouchable career. No matter where you work or what your past has been like, there’s a chance that something could disrupt your livelihood. The better prepared you are, the less you have to worry about it – so adopt these strategies and equip yourself with better protection now, before you need it.