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14/01/2011 - Want Job Security? Work on Your Education

Job security has become a bit of a professional artifact. It existed at one time, and your parents or grandparents can attest to it. You probably didn’t witness it firsthand, but the stories they tell are fascinating. If you showed up on time, worked hard and delivered results, you didn’t worry about your job. And if you had a college education? Well, you could pretty much bronze your nameplate because you weren’t going anywhere.

Then the world changed and workers realized they could be gone tomorrow. It sounds a bit like a disaster movie, but it’s the truth. You might think your job’s pretty safe, and chances are your hunch is right, but you probably wouldn’t bet your life savings on it.

No one can guarantee you a surefire way to keep your job forever. What I can tell you is that a proven asset for professionals is education. Not just a degree in business if you want to go into sales, or in accounting if you want to be a CPA. While both are good paths that work for many people, you should also consider other educational credentials that augment your experience.

A bonus degree
A relevant college education is often a prerequisite just to land an interview, but that alone won’t guarantee you the job. You need skills, experience and the right qualities for that position. Once you’ve got the job, you still need to pile on the qualifications. That’s what financial educator Christine D. Moriarty did. Moriarty, president of MoneyPeace Inc, earned her credentials as a certified financial planner, which gives her a strong foundation for financial planning. She still went on to earn an M.B.A.

“I knew years ago I wanted to be a certified financial planner,” Moriarty says. “I am glad to have that credential. It is limiting as opposed to the M.B.A which is broader and allows me the more exposure to other careers if I wanted. When I considered an M.B.A I was told by many people that I did not need an M.B.A to be a CFP. However, I found it to be my best credential for job security, insight and flexibility.”

Moriarty had to weigh the cost of earning her M.B.A against the benefit of staying in the professional world with just her CFA credentials. There’s no easy way to measure the true expense of getting the degree, and no single piece of advice can tell you what the right decision is.

“There are endless studies on whether getting an MBA is worth it. Mostly in the financial lingo of opportunity cost which includes missing [out on] employment for two years compared with increased salary,” Moriarty explains. “The ones I have seen say it is not worth it. However, my experience says what you get along with the credential that does impress people is confidence. You have been exposed to many more situations and reviews of industries, which make you better in a host of analytical situations.”

Because she’s self-employed, the business know-how has helped her navigate the fluctuating economy.

Confidence builder
When consultant Helen Cooke decided to pursue an M.S. in organizational development, she was looking for a way to reinvigorate her career, or at least interest in her career. At the time, she found her job lacked the challenge it once had.

“By taking advantage of the company’s tuition reimbursement, I was intellectually stimulated and able to contribute at higher levels while making my job more interesting as I applied new concepts and models,” Cooke says. “It was a win/win and ensured I was contributing as a high performer with new innovations rather than sitting around bored, disgruntled and complaining.”

The job security was less about showing her qualifications and more about stepping up her performance. Not only did she break out of her rut, but she actually became a better worker, which is perhaps the best way to stay employed. Cooke also thinks part of improving your performance comes from confidence in knowing that you are a better worker because of your educational endeavors.

“[Educated workers] know that they are extremely capable of learning and applying new information, comprehend that ongoing development is critical to not losing ground in the workplace, possess the foresight to invest the time and energy (and money if they don’t have an employer who supports ongoing education) and have the fortitude to stick with it despite the usual competing priorities,” she says.

Whether you’re bored at your job, looking to increase your odds of landing a new one or increase job security, you can choose from a variety of educational endeavors to help your job security:

• A new degree (or a first one)
If a degree exists to complement your existing one, or you haven’t yet earned one in your field, now’s a good time to enroll.
• Certification
Depending on your industry, various certifications might be available to help you qualify for new positions. Some certifications, such as the ones you can get at CB Institute, improve skill sets that are transferable to any industry.
• Training
Training courses don’t get you a new acronym to put after your name, but they do keep you current with industry trends and findings. If you want to show an employer that you’re proactive about your job and you’re not just going through the motions, training courses or seminars will do the trick.