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Your Parents’ Career Path vs. Yours – How Things Have Changed

Your Parents’ Career Path vs. Yours – How Things Have Changed

Ted Hekman

February 03, 2011

Like much of the country (I hope), I watched the President’s State of the Union address the other night. One idea in his speech that caught my attention was his remarks about how the employment world is not the same employment world our parents were apart of.

The President continued saying we need to look at the bright side of a changing world rather than let it bring us down. And in keeping with that spirit I decided to think of what those positives and “negatives” are. Here is a list of the positives and “negatives” to consider:

The “Negatives”

1. Job Stability/Security

One of the biggest changes since your parents set out on their career path is a change in job stability and security. When your parents joined the world of work, it was expected you would choose a career path and stay in it for life. You may also stay with your first employer for your entire career. Frequently, your career path was mapped out fairly clearly from day one, if you worked hard and proved yourself.

This is no longer the case. You are at a greater risk of getting laid off, as companies change and develop much more rapidly than in the past, and focus heavily on high levels of efficiency. Organizations are considerably flatter, with less opportunity for promotion, and a less clear route of progress to the top. This may at first glance appear to be a negative, but actually, it affords you more opportunities to move around and find what works for you in the workplace.

2. Less loyalty

Directly related to the job security issue, on both sides there is less loyalty. These days, that is not the case. No employer expects you to stay with them for life, and you certainly don’t plan to either. You will likely have a number of different employers over the course of your career, where your parents may have had just one or two. While this may seem risky, it is also considerably more fun. You will have more variety in your career than your parents could ever have hoped for.

3. More Competition

Education levels have changed, and this has meant a change in your career opportunities and prospects. Back in your parents’ day, fewer people went to university to get a degree. These days, it is almost an expectation at 18 years old, you will go to university. Having a degree no longer distinguishes you the way it did in the past. You have a degree, but it doesn’t mean as much as it used to for employers. You might find you need to study for a Masters or other higher level qualification just to gain entry to your field. Overall, competition is greater. On the plus side, education is much more accessible, to allow you to compete effectively.

The Positives

1. Greater opportunities

You have a lot more opportunities open to you than your parents had. Technological advances have led to the world becoming more accessible. Two changes in particular are relevant. One is the development of the Internet. The other is the advances in air transportation that have taken place.

In the case of the Internet, you are able to work from anywhere. You could work for an employer in a full time position from home. Telecommuting is becoming ever more popular. You may never even meet your colleagues in person. The Internet also provides new types of jobs: Online Marketer, Social Marketing Manager, and more.

Advances in air transportation have made travel to other parts of the world significantly cheaper since your parents started out in their careers. This brings a couple of changes in terms of your career. One is you may end up being sent overseas, or to different parts of the country for work, because it is easier and cheaper for your employer to do so than in the past. The second change is you can work anywhere you can find a job. In your parents’ day it would have been much harder to fly to China, Australia, India or Argentina to find a job. These days, you can find all of the visa information you need online for a country that interests you, find a job online, get on a flight and go. Your career does not have to be limited to your home country in the way it may have been in the past.

2. Different types of jobs available

One of the big changes from your parents’ careers is you have a far greater range of jobs open to choose from. When your parents began working there were, for example, very few jobs available in computers and a lot less in the area of customer service, to name just a couple. Your career can take a path your parents could not even have imagined.

3. Greater variety of ways of working

These days you have the opportunity to freelance much more easily than your parents could have. The growth of the Internet, and to some degree, more social acceptance of freelancing, allows you to find work more easily and do it from home without ever meeting clients. This allows you develop your own career completely in your own way, without having an employer to worry about.