Job Security is an illusion

“And what are the realities of modern life? Well, the chief one is an everlasting, frantic struggle to sell things. With most people it takes the form of selling themselves – that’s to say getting a job and keeping it.” – George Orwell, Coming up for air.

One of the things to which people like to cling – even if the reality of escape should present itself – is job security.

Loss of job security is one of the fears that ties you to a desk job and prevents you from setting up your own business or taking a period of voluntary unemployment. After income, it’s probably the most-cited thing that people go to work for. But what exactly is it?

Wikipedia puts it in cold terms: “Job security is the probability that an individual will keep his or her job; a job with a high level of job security is such that a person with the job would have a small chance of becoming unemployed.”

This is factually accurate but the real nature of job security is tantamount to false hope. So you have a high level of job security, but in actuality you always have to live with the risk that you’ll be made redundant or fired unjustly or forced to retire. It happens. Even if you work for a massive conglomerate and have a contract as long as your arm, your job can vanish if your employer decides it.

People think that self-employment is risky but at least such risk can be managed. The self-employed are not at the whim of employers. Yes, they are at the whim of the markets but a good entrepreneurial education and a knowledge of investment will give the self-employed the skills to manage that risk. There is no analogue action for an employee to take: you’re a passenger with no access to the cockpit.

Job Security is an illusion. How do we overcome this illusion?

As advised in Issue Three, use your job as a career gym. Don’t just take the paycheque like a happy worker. Use your job to learn transferable skills. Make yourself re-employable in the event that you should lose your job, want to change your job, or want to voluntarily escape it.

I suppose the fear of losing job security is higher if you’re living from paycheque to paycheque. This is the argument for saving: if you can make adequate measures of frugality and save a decent proportion of your income, you will gradually overcome the fear of losing job security with every passing paycheque. If you have money in the bank, the possibility of losing your job will concern you less. Eventually, you will have enough money in the bank to give you the confidence to leave your job in the most dignified manner possible: a letter of resignation.


Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at

5 Responses to “Job Security is an illusion”

  1. Neil Scott says:

    On this subject, do watch Up in the Air (, which features an escapologist (he even has a book planned called How Heavy is Your Rucksack) who goes around America firing people. His basic message is that being fired is a gift (which, arguably, it is for most people. It wakes you up.).

  2. Rob says:

    I saw it, Neil! I enjoyed it so much that I read the original novel too. (The movie is better though, I think).

  3. […] this, I was free. All I had needed was the confidence to go ahead with my fool-hardy scheme and a period of proper R&R to get the creative ideas […]

  4. […] can reinvent themselves, it’s just a bit harder if you think you’ve got a lot to lose. Job security, though, is an illusion. You might be on a roll now, but don’t ever kid yourself that it’ll last forever. You […]

  5. […] people can reinvent themselves, it’s just a bit harder if you think you’ve got a lot to lose. Job security, though, is an illusion. You might be on a roll now, but don’t ever kid yourself that it’ll last forever. You could be […]

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