You Could Lose Your Job Any Day. Here’s 5 Ways to Protect Yourself From Ruin

Joanne Poh



Like it or not, as an employee there’s no such thing as real job security. You might love your work and even think your colleagues are pretty cool people, but never assume you’ll be able to keep your job forever just because you got there first.

You might not exactly be old enough to start fearing becoming obsolete, but you’d be surprised to know how many friends I have who’ve been retrenched in their twenties and thirties. If you’ve got financial liabilities like home loan repayments or a family to feed, it’s important to always have a safety net so that if one fine day your boss sends you packing, it won’t be the end of the world.


1. Maintain an emergency fund

We’re going to be harping on this till the cows come home (or people actually start bothering to build an emergency fund). Most people try to maintain some sort of emergency fund because, duh. But here’s the deal—if your emergency fund consists of the 20 cent coins you toss into a jar at home, you’re already in trouble. Or maybe you do have an emergency fund in theory, except that to you not being able to find shoes to match your new outfit counts as an emergency.

If your emergency fund is so pathetic the only emergency it can bail you out of is being forced to pay ten cents to use a public toilet, or you find yourself withdrawing funds from it to pay for your MRT rides home, you need to start building it up with a vengeance.


2. Strengthen your network

As much as you might cringe at the thought of being that slimy guy who tries to network shamelessly with the higher-ups, don’t pass up the opportunity to strengthen your own network while you’ve still got a job.

That doesn’t have to mean sucking up to anyone and everyone in power. It does mean making the effort to interact with those around you, build relationships and show an interest in other people’s lives. Those alcohol-fuelled Friday nights with your colleagues and their friends might turn out to be more useful than you imagined. One of my friends got fired and within a week found a much better new job thanks to tip-offs from one of his zillions of industry friends.


3. Keep your resume updated at all times

Not keeping your resume updated is not only a sign of complacency. It also means that the longer you stay in your current job, the harder it will be to remember past achievements.

If you’re unable to recall what you’ve done over the past few years, you might as well have done nothing as far as your future employers are concerned, just like how if it’s not on Facebook it didn’t happen. Spend some time, perhaps on a monthly or quarterly basis, to note down any big events that should be recorded  for input into your resume.


4. Moonlight for spare cash

If you have humane working hours, moonlighting is a good way to earn yourself a little extra cash and also ensure you don’t starve if your boss decides to get rid of you one day.

A surprising number of people I know in the banking and legal industries actually moonlight as tuition teachers after work, while an insurance salesman I know teaches guitar on the side.


5. Upgrade your skills

If someone agrees to pay you a five figure sum to just sit at a desk all day and press a single button over and over, no one’s saying you can’t take the job—but make sure that’s not the only thing you can do, otherwise when the dream ends you’re going to have a hard time finding someone else who’ll pay you to do the same thing.

A job can be a learning opportunity if you let it. Get your boss to send you on courses and seminars that you can parlay into your next job. And just because all you do is press a button all day long doesn’t mean the other people in your company are doing the same thing. See if you can pick up some new skills here and there by asking to try different things. That way, when the ship sinks, you’ll have a sturdier life raft to hang on to.

Do you think you could cope if you were to lose your job tomorrow? Let us know in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.