Jobs for life?

A recent pondering of mine has been considering how important it is to stay in the same job for a prolonged period of time. It strikes me that looking only as far back as one generation, people took a job following the end of their studies and generally stayed in that job or at least in that field of work, through good times and bad until retirement.

But this doesn’t seem to be the case any longer. People move from job to job at an alarming rate and will happily change careers late in to their adult lives, often to something radically different from their previously chosen path. A recent study by the Daily Mail found that as many as 1 in 3 people now remain in a job for less than 2 years. It is now not uncommon to come across people who graduated, worked their way up in a related career path, but then 10 years later chose to return to their studies and re-train as something entirely different. So it is clear that times are certainly a-changing, and moving jobs appears to be becoming much more acceptable, but is this shift in work and occupations a positive move, showing that we are becoming a more diverse and skilled workforce, or should we be harking back to our ancestors and showing more commitment when taking on a new job? Is there anything wrong with changing careers and adding new skills to a CV, or does this show a lack of commitment  and an inability to persevere with a chosen occupation?

Indeed the chances of meeting someone today who has been in the same job for 30 years is rare to the point of obsolete. It is far more likely that you will meet a 30 year old who has worked in 6 different  jobs and is already on their 3rd or 4th career. But although this is entirely different from the mindset of our parents’ and grandparents’ generations, it appears that this diversity is a quality that some employers now respect and actively seek when recruiting new staff, as it shows experience and a thirst for learning. 17 is  certainly a young age to be choosing a university course that will set you up with a career for life, and with this in mind, it hardly comes as a surprise that a huge number of graduates have changed their minds by the time they collect their certificate, and end up pursuing further education in a different direction, or embarking on a career that bears no relevance to the course they studied for 3 years.

But which path is the best to take? Or does it vary from person to person? Many prefer the security of a job for life, or at least a job for a reasonable amount of time, as with it comes the stability of a secure monthly income, plus all the social and comforting benefits that come with staying in the same job year after year. And when I see people that are happily in their 5th or 6th year doing the same job, with no plans to change, I almost envy their contentment, as I am one of the breed that suffers from itchy feet, and feels the need to move on after a couple of years, always looking for the next challenge.

Perhaps the rise in popularity of the gap year is to blame for this shift in attitudes to work. Gaining valuable life experience is becoming more and more desirable, and indeed many employers are now favouring this experience over an academic qualification. It can be said that those who go straight in to employment following university have no real life experience, having only lived as students, compared to those who may well be younger, but may also have a year of travelling, independent living and experience under their belts. The need to explore and see the world is leading to more and more workers requesting sabbaticals, and specifically taking roles which allow them to travel.

Of course no-one can be criticised for the way they choose to live their life, and equally, no-one has the right to say one way of tackling the world of work is more acceptable than another. We all change and develop as we get older, and for some this means growing with their job, perhaps progressing up through the company, or moving in to a different department. For others this may mean deciding and wondering what’s next, and feeling the need to move on. Either of these options are fine, as long as they are made with an open mind, and are chosen for the right reasons. A 9-5 working week with 25 days holiday a year isn’t for everyone, but then again nor is a life spent on the road with only a 60 litre backpack full of trusty supplies to your name. It seems that frequently changing jobs is simply what the majority of people do these days, which doesn’t necessarily make it any more sensible or recommended, but just shows that there is now a plethora of options, rather than simply having to follow the prescribed formula of making a career decision early on and sticking to it.

I say you only live once, so be sensible and give it some thought, but ultimately, ignore social pressure, make your own decisions for the right reasons, and do what you want!

Do I need to decide now?
Do I need to decide now?

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