To some extent, Corporate America is saying goodbye to employees. Should you, likewise, consider saying goodbye to Corporate America?

Early in this century, many IT jobs were lost in 2000/2001. When the economy revived, a significant portion came back as contract work. In effect, employers said to these workers: ” You get no benefits or job security, but can work for us for X months as a 1099er until we no longer need you. Then, you can go get your next contract gig somewhere else.” To a growing extent, this employment model has been expanding into a wide range of other professions.

Consider also that a significant portion of what are viewed as permanent jobs are of a duration of 24 to 36 months. The majority of high-paying executive jobs, for example, now have tenures in this range. One way to look at this shortening of tenures is to view many executives as longer term contract workers with benefits. That doesn’t sound as glamorous as before, huh?

Based upon these (and other) changes in corporate employment strategies, it now makes more sense than ever for more people to consider the alternatives to working for “The Man.”

In chapter 17 of my book (Fast Track Your Job Search (and Career!)) I offer the example of Bob, a bank loan officer and client. When Bob came to me, he had kids in college and had been let go from three banks in a row within five years. It had nothing to do with his job performance. It was all about corporate turbulence in the only industry he had ever known. Bob felt trapped in an industry turned upside down (and it is still upside down today, 6 years later!). Bob had never considered being self-employed until we discussed a revolutionary idea — take his knowledge of what it took to get a loan and start helping companies who were struggling to get loans in an unstable economy. He came up with the concept for his own company, launched it, replaced his loan officer income within 6 months, and doubled his income within 24 months. As I describe in my book,

With virtually no retraining (or additional degrees or certifications) , he stepped into a new role with expert skills and a high demand for his services.

Your alternatives to working for The Man are many: become a contract worker and choose your contracts, re-define yourself as an independent consultant (what Bob did), start your own small business from scratch, buy a small business, buy a franchise, invest with others in a partnership, set your spouse up in a side business until you can quit your current job, create multiple streams of income that combine to provide you what you want, etc.

But, and this is a big BUT, these situations are not to be entered into lightly. Forethought and counseling with a coach/consultant is recommended before leaping into them on an emotional whim. When you work for a company, your personal brand is tied to the public’s perception of your employer. If you start your own business, your personal brand needs to be in synch with the brand of your business.

When dinosaurs roamed the earth in the 20th century, a corporate job seemed safer and more secure. In today’s world, there still is somewhat more security in Corporate America than being independent … but the tide is turning. More and more JOBS are becoming extinct. The trend is undeniable.

I want to challenge you to consider this: While being self-employed in the 20th century was more risky than having a corporate job, in the 21st century corporate jobs are continuing to become more and more risky. More people should be evaluating the changing risks and consider more independent income and career options.

What do you think? Do you agree that corporate jobs are more risky than ever, or not? I’d love to hear your opinion.


 Richard Kirby is an executive career consultant, speaker on career strategies, and author of Fast Track Your Job Search (and Career!). Richard Kirby’s earlier experience includes managing engineering, human resources, marketing and sales teams for employers that ranged from a Fortune 100 to a VC-funded entrepreneurial startup. For the past 11 years at Executive Impact, Richard has helped hundreds of executives and professionals successfully navigate today’s transformed 21st century job market and achieve better employment for themselves. Richard’s expertise includes career assessments and goal setting, personal marketing/branding, resume enhancement, strategic networking and job interviewing, and “contrarian” job search methodologies. He is a Board Certified Coach (in career coaching) and a Certified Management Consultant (recognized by the ISO).