In the generation before World War II, the average worker had one job and stuck with it until he or she retired or died, whichever came first. Today, the facts are strikingly different.
In a US labor statistics study, Baby Boomers were found to have had an average of 11.3 jobs between age 18 and age 46. Of the jobs a person of this age has had, half of those jobs were held before the individual turned 25. Job tenure averaged 4.5 years.
Fast-forward to Gen X-ers, Gen Y, and Millennials, and the numbers continue to point in favor of more mobility across jobs and switching careers.
Workopolis analyzed 7,000,000 work histories and found a trend in the Canadian workforce showing that Gen X-ers worked an average of 3 jobs in 12 years. And Gen Y-ers held almost 4 jobs in the same amount of time. In a report published by CNN Money, Millennials are expected to change jobs 4 times in the first 10 years in the workforce. Making their generation the most likely to change jobs on any given day.
Naturally, what figures like these cannot show is whether a change in job also means a change in careers. But what is telling is that the single-job or single-career type of working path is obsolete.
The reasons for career or job changes are varied, but here are some common trends in changes seen today.
Career or job change for those approaching retirement
For those who have built a business from scratch, a career transition at this stage is often about pulling back. And finding ways to lighten their load, either by selling their business or by changing their role to one of an advisory capacity. For example, if a soon-to-retire individual owns a dental practice, how to sell my dental practice is an often searched-for question.
It may be that the individual’s retirement savings need bolstering. But such career transitions for those of this age are often not solely related to finances or from the desire to retire.
Bloomberg.com reported that almost 19 percent of those 65 and older were working a part-time job. And much of that change is a switch from traditional employment to working for themselves, or finding freelance work.
Reasons for continuing to work beyond retirement age include good health of the individual in question. A passion for the job at hand. As well as a desire to remain active.
Staying active and continuing to earn may also be key ingredients to safeguarding not only their health but also their financial future.
Job-hopping for Millennials is the new normal
It's not because they are being fired at a high rate. Rather, a great percentage of Millennials expect to spend an average of 2 years at any given company before moving on.
Is this constant movement about finding higher pay? Perhaps. But it is not only about that. The Harvard Business Review notes that Millennials think about their role (job) as a stepping stone and a growth opportunity. Once they have learned all they think their present job has to offer, they’re ready to move on.
Another survey concluded they wanted freelance flexibility but with the financial stability of a full-time job. This flexibility manifests in control over work hours. Being able to choose when one performs one's tasks. As well as in location, in being able to work remotely, from home, or from other venues (vs. a company's office).
Moving beyond surface reasons for job or career changes
Becoming dissatisfied with one's job or chosen profession is a reason that spans generations. Disillusionment, depression, or disinterest can often be the impetus to reevaluate. And then try something new.
Other reasons include finding a passion that is able to bring in income. Or becoming proficient enough in a hobby that one can either teach the skill to others or sell products created from the hobby.
In this sense, the upward trend of more job and career change in today's workforce might make for happier individuals.
Some job changes or career changes are prompted by layoffs and downsizing. So, not all job changes are positive. But there are ways for individuals in the workforce to prepare for the possibility that their current job won't be their last. Career experts suggest that individuals continually be thinking about their next career move. As well as what skills they can next acquire.
With trends and technologies rapidly changing how we work and what we work on, the best ability is the ability to keep gaining new skills.