The year 2018 is coming to a close, and that means many of you may soon consider a move from one employer to another. The question is whether it will be a voluntary change or a shift due to circumstances beyond your control.

Imagine it is January 2019. You have just returned to your office after enjoying a great holiday with your family. You feel refreshed and are looking forward to the new year in a job you enjoy, working for a senior executive you respect in an organization you like.

While catching up on email over your first morning coffee, you look back over the past few years. You have spent your time in a senior-level security management role after leaving your government position. Two more years and you will be fully vested in your company’s retirement plan. Not bad for someone who is in their 50’s and looking forward to another seven to 10 years of work. Life is good.

Your boss calls and asks you to join a meeting down the hall. You are anticipating a discussion around annual bonus payouts, but when you arrive, you notice the head of HR is already present. The mood is somber.

Your annual bonus is not the topic of the meeting after all. Rather, you are told your organization has finalized an agreement with a foreign competitor to merge operations and form a new, stronger organization that will provide greater value to shareholders. Unfortunately, you will not have a role within the new structure, and the HR representative is there to describe the great severance package they will offer you. You feel like you have just been kicked, and you only hear half of the words from that point forward.

All of us in the security profession know someone who has experienced this scenario. It is happening with increasing frequency as organizations work to minimize footprint while maximizing return to shareholders. I estimate I have had no less than 20 different discussions with security professionals who are concerned about their future going into 2019. This reflects the reality of today’s business climate, and it will continue to evolve for the foreseeable future.

The terminology used in these scenarios include words like realign, re-engineer, re-invent, reorganize, reshape, return to core business, outsource non-core activities, remain competitive, change direction, merge, take over and acquire. All positive actions depending on whose position you view them from. Regardless of what it is called, the blunt reality is that your position is now redundant, eliminated, outsourced, replaced or absorbed by another other organization, and you have been fired.

While media hypes demand for talented security professionals, the reality is quite different. If you look across 10,000 random organizations, all of which have presidents, how many have a corporate security executive? After you slice and dice the industry type, location, size, salary levels and incumbent turnover, the number of opportunities truly available may seem quite slim. It means today’s security job market is a highly competitive environment.

This knowledge signifies you have a choice to make as 2018 winds down and you consider what your career goals are for the new year. You could wait to see what happens. It is possible your job is safe given that your department routinely recovers or prevents millions in losses. Logic seems to point to longevity for both your team and you in those circumstances. Regardless of the results you deliver and how good you are, the decisions that influence your career are often not ones you have influence over.

You can let events impact your life and shape your career or you can take control.  Even if you are not actively looking for a job right now, you should be prepared to execute an effective job search strategy at a moment’s notice.  Know your near and long-term personal and career goals and objectives.

And always have a backup plan.