Reducing risk in your career

A couple of weeks ago I took an avalanche training course which has given me enough information to know that I need a lot more practice and experience before I am ready for any full-on expeditions into the back country!

One of the things that has stuck with me (besides the harrowing live footage of someone caught in an avalanche and waiting for his friends to dig him out) is this video on risk:

I really like the breakdown of the four key pieces of risk: probability, consequence, vulnerability and exposure. Probability is about chance – how likely is it that something is going to happen. Consequence is the impact if that event does occur. Vulnerability is about your susceptibility to the impact of the hazard and exposure is the way you manage the risk.

We encounter risk in all areas of our life, not just when venturing into avalanche prone-areas of mountains. There is risk in driving a car, asking someone for help, putting your art and ideas into the world, falling in love, changing jobs and the list goes on.

“Risk is about embracing uncertainty as a critical part of your life.”

I personally think my risk tolerance is quite low. However, having always left a job without having another one lined up, taking numerous six-month travel breaks in my career and having not been an employee for over three and a half years others may beg to differ. But I believe I still have a low risk tolerance, and I choose to mitigate my exposure to risk wherever possible.

These days I don’t think working for yourself is any more risky than being an employee. At any point an employer can look to downsize and redundancies are becoming more and more common to those who thought they were “safe”. Below are five ways to reduce your exposure to the risk of finding yourself without a job:

Keep learning

It is important to always be growing your knowledge base and be interested in what is happening in your field of expertise. No matter what field you work in (health, arts, technology, personal development) there is always more you can learn and there are always changes taking place.  The more you are aware of what is happening around you, including, the latest advances and ideas, the more useful you are to employers or clients.

Save for a rainy day

Seeing as neither myself nor my partner are in permanent employment, we don’t have the luxury of pensions, sick leave, benefits or any guarantee of continued work. Therefore we always need to have money set aside in case we get ill or can’t find work for a period of time. Putting money aside for these emergencies helps you feel more prepared (financially and mentally) and therefore the idea of not having work becomes less of a concern and less risky.

Develop networks

I love people and so naturally like to grow my network and the people I am connected to. I nurture these networks, not because I am aware of the need for future work, but because I actually care. However, these networks come in handy when you are looking for new work, especially when they work outside the project or work environment you are in currently. The more diverse your network the more chances they will know of potential people or work that could help you. 

Trust in your skills

Believe in your skills, experience and strengths and know that you have something that is worth something to someone else. I know that the skills and experience I have built up are valuable and will be of use to someone.  I also know that if I can’t find a job that is a perfect fit I can find a job that will pay the bills, no matter what it is.  There is always work out there and I am not afraid to having to do something “beneath” my skill level to get by.

Be open to other ways of working

Working in an office for someone else five days a week isn’t the only way to earn money anymore. You can go part-time, job-share, full-time, freelance, be an associate, an affiliate, a network marketer. You can work from home, from anywhere in the world, in an office, in a coffee shop, in a tent. You can work for different people simultaneously or go from one three-month contract to the next. You can do different work each season depending on what is on offer. By being open to the variety of ways of working you are opening yourself to more opportunities and in the process reducing your risk. We are all different so get the lifestyle and work environment that works for you.


So over to you. What is your risk profile? And what do you do to help you reduce your risk exposure when it comes to finding work?


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