Learning To Live With Career Change
People often ask us whether they should change careers and how they should go about it. We are therefore producing a series of articles on career change. This is the first in this series. Changing careers is a skill that we all need to develop. Many people are hesitant to change careers due to uncertainty and steps involved in moving from one occupation to another. Others possess personalities which make facing change difficult.
Parents, partners and friends, especially if they are over 45 – 50 years of age, often discourage younger people from changing careers as “it wasn’t such a done thing in their day” and their perspectives are shaped by their experiences.
Times have changed and will continue to change.
Relatively well-known facts are that today’s employees will on average
- have 5 careers and
- 17 jobs in their working life,
- which will last longer (e.g. until 70) than previous generations,
- and see 40% of jobs threatened by automation over the next 20 years,
with as many new jobs likely to be created over the next 20 years as will be lost to automation.
People who are 50 or over now have had to learn over the last 30 years to live with the fact that career change can come about through being made redundant as organisations and industries are structured or being terminated for under-performance or similar reasons.
This was a new phenomenon for the baby boomers as their parents and earlier generations had careers which lasted from “cradle to grave”.
Today, many organisations and industries have staff turnover rates of 14 – 30%. This means if the average is 20%, one in five of your work colleagues will leave this year.
Not unreasonably, today’s employees under around 40 years of age are also less likely to stay in a job which doesn’t satisfy or suit then. Careers which aren’t offering people enough engagement, enthusiasm, meaning and fulfilment are understandably left behind for occupations which better suit people’s interests, circumstances (e.g. working couples) and values.
For most people, career change is a decision made for personal reasons which often relate to offsetting dissatisfaction and / or seeking quicker career advancement.
The first reality is that today’s work environment is what it is, and the future will only be more dynamic with at least as many challenges and opportunities.
The second reality is that, as with most things in life, those who “stand still” and don’t adjust to the realities will leave themselves with reduced options for sustained career outcomes.
The third reality is that people can and need to learn and apply skills to change and adapt careers to a constantly evolving work environment. This includes adapting to such things as “portfolio” careers, flexible careers, remote working as well as more conventional full-time or part-time work.
The key requirement is to accept career changes as being something to live with and to benefit from. A second requirement is to approach career change in an informed and honest way. Informed on the options that suit and are available for you personally. And honest about who you are and want to be.
A third requirement is for you to have and apply a thinking framework and process that enables you to periodically take stock of who you are and what career options continue to suit you. A compass which helps you to be informed on what you elect to do and why, and what you choose not to do and why. And a compass that you can revert to say every 3 – 4 years, or whenever you need or wish to, to recalibrate where you are at and heading within a changing work environment.
Further articles in this series on career change will provide you with a framework to go about career change. In the meantime, the CareerHQ Compass at www.careerhq.com.au can assist those who are considering making a career change in the near term.