If someone offered you free career insurance, would you take it?

In a time of economic uncertainty, a lot of people are worried about finding fulfilling work or just keeping whatever job they have.

If you knew free career insurance existed and would give you access to more opportunities, would you take advantage of it?

When you’re laid off

What will you do? It’s unpleasant, but think about what you would do in the days and weeks after you’re laid off.

If you’re like most people, you’ll take your newfound free time to update your resume and your LinkedIn profile. Maybe you’ll reach out to a few people for coffee and ask if they know about any openings. If you know a recruiter, you’ll give her a call. Or you’ll ask friends for recruiters they might recommend.

Amidst the emotional and financial turbulence, you’ll be playing career roulette, relying largely on luck and hope. And you’ll be wishing you’d reached out to people before you needed to.

What is career insurance?

It’s hard for people to hire you if they can’t find you, or if they only know you as a piece of paper or a profile, hard to differentiate from any of the others. Career insurance is simply taking control over your visibility - and your access to opportunities - by using social platforms to purposefully shape your online reputation.

…social business platforms enable everyone at work to have more control over their reputation and greater access to opportunities…the roles of a manager as patron, arbiter, and gatekeeper are gradually coming to an end.

The reason for this is that modern tools and practices make it easier to contribute in a public way and to have those contributions valued by others. That kind of transparency and open access to an audience is much easier to achieve with the advent of social platforms. And they can give employees control over the perception of who they are, what they do, and how well they do it.

For career insurance, the key is working out loud. By making your work observable and narrating your work in progress, you create a much richer description of who you are and what you do. And the social nature of this process lends itself to discovering people who are interested in what you do. That growing network is what provides access to a much larger set of opportunities.

Instead of waiting till you need people, working out loud helps you build a purposeful network while you’re working. And instead of trying to fit your career into 2 -pages or a short interview, you’ll have built a rich, public tapestry of your work as a byproduct of working.

5 reasons why almost no one buys the free insurance

Yet, very few people take advantage of career insurance and perhaps it’s human nature. Hundreds of years ago, we locked the barn door after the horse bolted. Now, we backup our data after the computer crashes. We update our resume and build our network after we lose our job.

I know many people who want career insurance but don’t do much about it. And I’ve seen 5 common reasons for that.

  1. They don’t know what to do.
  2. They’re afraid. They want to be more visible but are afraid of possible negative feedback or other consequences.
  3. They’re too busy. The way they work, filling up calendars and inboxes, is a set of habits they find too difficult to change. And they value the feeling of being needed (“I’m so busy!”) and the immediate feedback associated with all of that busy-ness. (“Inbox zero!”)
  4. They’re a victim of WYSIATI. (What You See Is All There Is, courtesy of Daniel Kahneman.) The way their current job/team/division works is all they see and they can’t imagine other possibilities.
  5. They’ve a victim of learned helplessness.  They’ve tried something before and it didn’t work so they've stopped trying.

Each of these can be overcome with education, coaching, and a lot of practice.

Another possibility

But there’s one more possible reason, one that’s been haunting me. Rachel Happe  tweeted about it this week:

Maybe some people, even a majority of people, would rather just show up, get told what to do, and simply not deal with creating a better career. Maybe, despite what they say, they’d rather take their chances than actively try and work differently.

An offer

I refuse to accept that. Not that I know it to be false, but that I don’t want it to be true. Life is a set of probabilities. Why should people rely on hope and luck when they can, for free, take more control and increase their odds of having a fulfilling career?

So, if you’re interested in free career insurance, I’d like to talk with you. Just leave a comment on this post. (You can just say “I’m interested.”). I’ll spend an hour with each of the first 20 people, either in person if you’re in NYC or by phone if you’re not.

Thank you in advance for considering it. Each session will help me better understand how to make work better for everyone, not just a few lucky ones.