Myth of Job Security Explodes During Government Shutdown!


The recent government shutdown of 35 days leaves no doubt government jobs don’t hold the security they once did. The 800,000 workers affected suddenly found “a stable job” now high risk. (Julie Bosman New York Times January 27, 2019) Given the intensity of this wake up call, people will continue to reevaluate the government as a stable employer as they consider their long-term options.

People affected by the shutdown just wanted to go back to work. Many reported rethinking spending habits, a desire to curb expenses and save for a cushion should this happen again. We’ll see if the government shuts down again as soon as February 15th.

Millions of people are solidly on the path to redefining job security, once thought to be a life dedicated to one employer or work role. In these days of “precarious employment” (Dr. Bluestein of Boston College) many take contract work, go back to school, start part-time to gain entry to full time, find a side hustle, grow a business or work two jobs just to make it. Dr. Bluestein’s advice: Consider work unaffected by technological advances, for example in fields that draw on “caring and creativity.” Follow him on twitter @Bluestein.David.

Historically some employers treated employees like family. People passed down skills and working identities to generations of future loggers, teachers, skilled labor and professionals. Along with this mentoring came advice about who was best to work for and who best to avoid.

What a switch! How does one open up to explore radically different notions of work and financial security given our desire for predictability and financial stability? The mental overwhelm accompanying such questions can make it hard to take action.

Here are some additional tips for navigating the new reality of precarious employment:

  • Understand your vocational profile
  • Learn about career transition and how your skills transfer into other industries
  • Research attractive companies
  • Consider occupations less vulnerable to outsourcing or becoming outdated due to technological advancements and robots
  • Keep that resume updated, LinkedIn profile snazzy and interview prep sparkly
  • Put your energy into your connections; focus on deepening existing relationships and friendships, as well as reaching out to the new neighbors in your working life
  • Have a plan B and C for your work life
  • See what you can do for others. Mutually beneficial engagements are particularly satisfying, as deep down we all want to help each other if we can

Finally, at the leading edge of private sector firms and non-profits today, we see a return to earlier and more humane employment practices. Attractive companies are increasingly responding to our needs for inclusion, input and life work balance, along with financial security, in order to keep people around longer. Both management and workers have something to gain by humanizing the workplace. Hiring and bringing someone on board is expensive. Check out a place you’re curious about at, and get the scoop on what it’s like to work there from current and former employees.

Help yourself think differently about your employment options and check out the upcoming Elevating Impact Summit 2019 conference in Portland, Oregon March 15th, produced by Portland State’s Impact Entrepreneurs program in The School of Business. The theme: “Social Innovation Inspired by Patterns explores how we reveal patterns, break them and shape them.” Tickets available at

Last but certainly not least, heads up on a most wonderful Job Search Support Group that meets most Mondays at 8:30 am in the greater Portland area. Free mentoring and great coaching for all of you in the middle of a life and career transition and/or job search process.  Lake Grove Presbyterian Church, Job Seekers Support Group, 4040 Sunset Dr., Lake Oswego, OR 97035.  503.807.0468


I am passionate about working with individuals and groups who want to explore their deeper personal interests and values as a way of connecting with and building an authentic sense of self.  Find a meaningful direction in life and work life as a basis for creating fulfillment and positive world change.  I offer a blend of personal and career counseling to provide a holistic approach to career and life planning, workplace and business issues.  I thoroughly  enjoy my opportunity to speak with people from widely different ethnic and religious backgrounds and from all parts, levels and corners of the working world.

Gail Nicholson, MA, LPC







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