Life Employment versus Life Employability – a Fresh Perspective

Although this post is not directly about personal finance or financial freedom, it is absolutely relevant in improving our net worth in our wealth accumulation journey and financial wealth being. An article from one of the columnists in Focus Malaysia, Winslow Wong – somewhere in mid Aug 2014.

The Shift

In the last decade or so, there has been a fundamental shift from lifetime employment to lifetime employability. People want to know that no matter what happens to their current employers, they’ll be able to secure another job somewhere, ideally with equivalent and no lesser pay.


And one key reason people don’t work for long at one company is that managers are often not great coaches, and companies frequently don’t provide the needed training to retain employees. So on one hand, companies complain about high turnover rate and lack of staff loyalty, yet on the other hand, they hardly provide the very thing that employees most desire – the opportunity to learn and grow.

One hand cannot clap…

Some employees are also at fault – they think they are smart alecs and their know-it-all attitude makes them think there’s nothing to learn. So they job hop from one company to another, thinking they’ll get fresh opportunities to acquire new knowledge and skills – only to be disappointed. And so the vicious cycle continues.

So how?

To minimize this unhealthy trend, employers should rethink the whole recruitment process in terms of the type of candidates they hire. One core attribute is willingness to learn. Every new job has a learning curve, and if a person thinks he’s the smartest guy in the room and is overqualified for the job – don’t hire him. Likely he won’t be teachable and won’t stay for long.

Contrary to the conventional wisdom, the best person to hire is certainly not about the brightest person in the room! But don’t misunderstand that smart people don’t make good employees. The point is smart people can only be a good employee if they have teachable spirit and a strong desire to change for the better. More and more with today’s ever-changing technology and competitively demanding economic environment, the path to performance is learning.  They must suspend judgement and try different way to approach things – more of EQ than IQ.

People look awfully smart when they are willing to adopt to change or wanting to grow, instead of being resistant to change or staying in comfort zones.

Truth to be told, successful people are lifelong learners.

Learning comes form observation, practice and experience.  You’ll find those people hanging out with those who talk about what can be, rather than those who whine about what is not. They find mentors who’ve walked the path before them and seek their advice or assistance,  humbly.

Loyalty versus Go-getter?

Loyalty is over-rated in modern day economy. Best example – think of soccer superstars who move from one club to another. Closer to home – the dreaded retrenchment – it is likely you know at least someone in their 30’s who had been retrenched or reassigned to a new job role – something almost unheard of for people in their 30’s one or two decades ago.

retrenchment fun

Gone are the days when if your CV shows different companies every 2 or 3 years, employers would have perceived him/her as job hopper. Now? If your CV shows the same job role in the same company for the past 20 years, that could be alarming to prospective employers as he/she might appear unemployable elsewhere due to obsolete skill set or reluctance to adopt to change.

The fact is – a mix of mutually exclusive job roles are highly desirable today.

My experience

I am an engineer by training; I used to apply for sales & marketing job roles internally in one of my ex-company and externally at a point of time during my engineering career. I was rejected. The irony is, this is a role I learnt from zero to where I am today (with still a lot to learn). These are one of the essential skills in any business or entrepreneurship.

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