Job Insecurity

This week marks 6 months of working at my “new” job at the college. This occasion comes with a small raise and dental coverage! (Appointment’s already booked). But… it also means that my contract is up in just over a month… and there has been no mention of what’s going to happen after April 25th.

I knew coming into this job that it was only a 7-month contract. It doesn’t really make sense to work in student support over the summer when there aren’t students on campus. Regardless, the pros of taking this job undoubtedly outweighed the con of being laid off or unemployed in the spring. It was a foot in the door. It was getting me back into the industry I want to work in. It meant only having to work one job to pay my bills. And perhaps most importantly, it got me far, far away from my last job. (And let’s be honest, the idea of being a seasonal working and getting summers off is very tempting!)

I was very surprised back in my first week when I met with HR and they had me signing up for health benefits and a pension plan. I remember making a comment about it being a lot of paper work for such a short contract, to which the HR rep responded “everyone stays”. This was reinforced as I got to know other staff members, who also told me not to worry about “only being on a contract”. Most people have been working at the college for years and there is lots of opportunity to move around within the different departments, if I so choose.

My supervisor told us from the start that our contract renewal for next fall was dependent on a grant. Having come from a non-profit background, I know all too well about waiting on grand funding… But, we were told that we should hear by January, so that left a lot of time to figure out a Plan B if things didn’t pan out. Then as January approached, we were told we’d hear by February.  And then as February approached, we were told we’d be lucky to hear by July…


And because that wasn’t scary enough, my supervisor then dropped the bomb-shell on us:

We have no recall rights to our jobs.

He suddenly stopped using the phrase “contract renewal” and hesitantly told us that we would have to reapply for our jobs – if they continue to exist – and hope that no one more qualified or with more seniority applies.

Fan-freaking-tastic! I was not anticipating having to go through the whole hiring process again to keep my job.

Although I’ve known all along that I have no real job security, I’ll admit, I kept my head buried in the sand over this issue. I’ve been putting some money away in preparation, but I could have done a better job. I chose to believe all the positive things that I was told at the start. I assumed that any day now my supervisor would announce that we got the grant and that they want to re-hire me for the fall. Or at least that we got the grant and I could reapply (and perhaps know the outcome before my current contract ends).

But alas… there is still no news.


I’ve been keeping an eye on the job boards, but it’s become clear that I need to step-up my game. Unfortunately, I’m already finding the same struggles as I did last year when I was job hunting: most vacancies at the moment are for Summer Student Jobs only, which I of course, do not qualify for. Now I’m really kicking myself for not doing a better job of establishing some side hustles when I was off work last summer!

Naturally, there are things that I don’t like about this job (i.e. my office-mate), but I would hate for this to be the end. There was a fairly steep learning curve involved and now that I’ve been through the cycle once, I have many ideas on how I could improve upon it next time. I’ve only just recently established working relationships with a lot of the faculty members thanks to an event I helped coordinate. And this is clearly the field I need to be working in. I feel very confident that if they job is re-posted that I will be re-hired. I haven’t received any complaints or negative feedback about my job performance (and the hiring manager that initially didn’t seem sold on me has since retired).

There is quite a bit of downtime involved with this job so my colleagues and I have been helping out with a lot with other, related departments. This has led to promising rumors that we will have more responsibilities going forward (such as running study skill workshops, coordinating a peer mentoring program, and perhaps even resume writing – all things I have experience with and would love to do). We seem to have a lot staff and upper-management in our corner, but I’m not sure how much influence they have – especially if the funding isn’t there.

I have no problem being laid off for the summer if I know I’ll have a job to come back to in August. But I can’t survive off of my savings for long – nor do I want to. My fingers are crossed that this is all only temporary bureaucratic red-tape nonsense and that I’ll have some sort of idea of what’s happening within the next few weeks.

Amanda Kay

Amanda Kay, an Employment Specialist and founder of My Life, I Guess, strives to keep the "person" in personal finance by writing about money, mistakes, and making a living. She focuses on what it’s like being in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and surviving unemployment while also offering advice and support for others in similar situations - including a FREE library of career & job search resources.

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16 thoughts on “Job Insecurity”

  1. Uggh! Sounds stressful. I know your mind is going crazy. Just keep socking away the money and being conservative with spending. I really hope you will be able to stay there. It sounds like a nice fit for you. I also work at a college and while it’s not a dream job by any stretch of the imagination it’s certainly a good job with good benefits that I feel lucky to have. Even if you can’t keep that one hopefully you can apply for something else. Fingers crossed!

  2. ugh! the not knowing is what would kill me. I’m the the type of person that makes plans to make plans. If anything, I would start searching for jobs to interview on. When I was looking for a job it almost always became a full-time job just to look for a job. Plus you have more negotiating power when you still have a job

  3. My husband was suddenly laid off from a job we thought was “permanent”. But we’ve gone through this before and we have a large savings to compensate. He also got a job quickly enough so it worked out.

    If I were you, I would keep looking but I would also do everything I could to try to keep the job. Ask supervisors what you need to do to re-apply for your position. Stay on top of them regarding the steps you need to follow. Nothing’s worse then finding out you could have saved your job if you followed x, y, and z.

  4. Oh that sounds like the worst. Having to re-apply for your own job? I would feel humiliated and frustrated. I am sorry you are going through this and will think good thoughts for you and your next steps.

  5. I hate being in ’employment limbo’ its the worst. It sucks because you are actually enjoying your job. Keep us posted… hopefully it all works out. x

  6. Oh no. Limbo is the worst I know though having to reapply for your own job is not something I’ve faced – how insulting. Fingers crosse and i am sure you will get rehired.

  7. This sounds so stressful. Job insecurity is truly awful. A couple of years ago, I could only get temporary jobs so when the term would end, I would freak out and start looking for a new job. It did all work out for me, but it was so stressful in the meantime. It must be frustrating to not even know when you will know. Hang in there!

  8. I work in higher ed too, and I totally understand this. Does your college or university have any temp work? We have a massive temp office that my husband worked at for 6 months before landing a perm job. While it may not be ideal, it would keep you on the payroll and get you out there to other offices.

    Also, I’m not sure if you’re a member, but I always join the NASPA facebook pages for my region. They are always posting student services jobs there.

    • No, unfortunately there is no temp work here – all those kinds of jobs are posted as Student Jobs which I don’t qualify for. And because it’s all unionized, the people with more seniority always get dibs on the few summer jobs before me. I do qualify for EI which, as ridiculous as it is, will pay me more than if I took a FT minimum wage job. So, I think I’m going to go that route while I look for jobs and/or wait to hear about this one. Not ideal, but it’ll keep a roof over my head.

  9. I had a constantly-renewing contract like that, and the most I had to do was resign my contract every few months? (It was a THREE MONTH RENEWING CONTRACT, aka, the worst) so maybe it won’t be like, a TOTAL rehire, just a revisiting of your skills?

    • I’ve gotten more information since I posted this, and unfortunately my contract is 100% over next week. BUT they are most likely tweaking the job description and re-posting it, so hopefully it’s just a formality of going through the hiring process again. (With a few months off!) If not, it at least opens the doors for many other jobs in the college and/or academic field. My office mate is currently on her 14th contract here, so it looks good that I’ll find something!


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