Even if you’re the most optimistic, upbeat person in the world, you know that there’s no such thing as job security these days. If you’re fortunate enough to like your job, however, it’s easy to forget about that for the time being. Over at Lifehacker, Alan Henry reminds us why we shouldn’t.
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“One thing becomes apparent after the honeymoon of a newly-launched career is over: Your employer — whether it’s a scrappy startup or a massive multi-million dollar company — is not your friend,” Henry writes, in a post entitled The Company You Work for Is Not Your Friend. “You are a resource. That means the only one you can trust, really, is you.”
What does this mean, practically speaking? In short, don’t get comfortable. Don’t treat HR like your personal guidance counselor, don’t stop updating your resume, and don’t settle for less out of a sense of loyalty. Be on your own team, because your company isn’t, even if the other individuals who work there really like you.
Instead, remember to:
1. Think of yourself like a business.
Just like Nike or Coca-Cola, you have a personal brand, and just like your employer, you have a bottom line. Keep this in mind, and you won’t do anything unprofessional and blow your chances at a promotion or sell yourself short and fail to negotiate the salary at your next job offer. You can like your co-workers and bosses and the company mission, and we hope you do — but you should always be on your own side first.
2. Keep work and life separate.
Many of us have friends at work, and that’s great: if you’re going to spend the bulk of your waking hours someplace, it’s nicer if you have people to talk to while you’re there. But even if you become BFFs with your co-workers, don’t treat work like a bar or coffee shop. Don’t say or type anything that you wouldn’t want your other colleagues to hear or read, and keep it appropriate. And if you should ever find yourself in a spot where all your friends are at your job, consider branching out outside of work. Things don’t stay the same forever, and you don’t want to wind up feeling like the professional version of that kid who keeps coming back to visit high school after graduation.
3. Focus on growth.
More than money and promotions, the most important measure of whether your job is still serving your needs is whether or not you’re learning something new on a regular basis. If the answer is no, it’s time to start looking for new opportunities.
Life is short. Don’t spend the working part of yours stuck in a dead end.
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