The Reverse of Job Security

January 29, 2009

During times like these, why should I give up my responsibilities and throw away any job security that I have?

Job security should not be because you are the only one capable of performing fixer-upper tasks or upgrading a legacy system.

Job security should mean the company views you as an irreplaceable asset. If job security were based on your responsibility of maintaing an application or system, how are you ever able to grow and take on new projects?


As a consultant, I ended up in this scenario because the responsibility of the developed system was left completely in the hands of contractors. Any full time employees who were previously involved left the company. When I was the last contractor on the project and ready to start another gig, upper management discovered that there were no internal developers with knowledge of the system that was built. I became irreplaceable, but not because of my abilities. I and the upper management team failed to ensure that other developers understood the system. No one had the confidence that they would be able to maintain it should something go wrong. As a result, this hurt me by preventing me to take on additional work opportunities and start on other projects.

Unfortunately we cannot always depend on management to take care of spreading knowledge around to other teams as that requires more resources to schedule on their part. The key here is spreading the knowledge by taking initiative. Invite other developers, junior ones specifically, in to your circle and educate. Question them and teach them. Tell them you are doing this so you can move on they gain a more well-rounded view of different application designs and roles. Make it sound interesting. Don’t pass on what you did right about the system. Pass on what is wrong with the system and what you would have done different so that they learn from your mistakes.