The pandemic and the following ‘Great Resignation of 2022’ highlighted the way more and more people are working to live rather than living to work.
In the past, the standard career trajectory saw you start in a junior role then rise up the ranks to work in senior management for the same company. Your salary would rise accordingly but often, so did your level of stress.
A traditional career trajectory also tied you to the one location. When showing up at the office was necessary five days a week, it limited your choice of where you could live. For generations of people, this has meant having to reside far away from family and loved ones in order to make a living.
The New Career Trajectory
While building skills and rising through professional ranks is still important to a lot of people, a linear career path and a lifetime spent with a single employer is less appealing.
These days, statistics show most people will have around 12 different jobs in their lifetime, often across different industries. Where a job used to be for life, now it is usually for around four years. Contract work can last from a few weeks to a few years and is no longer geographically anchored in an ‘office’.
In modern times, the career ‘badge of honour’ comes from having a cross-section of experience with a number of employers. Often, people create an impressive resume by having a combination of skills which translate across professions and roles. For example, someone who starts their career as a software engineer may transition to a project management-focused role with a government department. Their foundation skills allow them to operate with a deeper understanding of their team’s challenges and they can apply background knowledge to drive digital progress.
A fulfilling career path doesn’t have to mean achieving a senior role either. Instead, many individuals choose to contract within their skillset and switch between employers so they can work on more diverse projects.
Being a contractor can also come with the perk of being able to take an extended break between roles. For some people, this is more valuable than having a powerful job title and the corresponding salary.
The Changing Way We work And Live
The other huge shift of the modern working world is towards a far more flexible way of working. More and more, people are looking for a job which offers them a challenge they feel good about but also the right blend of work hours and the option to live where they want.
As explained in Andreeson Horowitz’s article Investing in Flow, “You own a home you call your own, typically with a multi-decade mortgage, near your current employer. IF you can find a house, as these locations often aren’t building new housing. IF you can afford that house, as housing prices in many such places have skyrocketed. And even then, you’re now stuck — you can’t move, even if your economic opportunity or life path wants to take you somewhere else.”
During the Great Resignation, people rejected the above model and relocated from traditional economic hubs to more affordable areas. The bonus was being able to do so without losing income.
If you have the right skills and you can perform your job with the help of a computer and an internet connection, it shouldn’t matter where you live. You may not even reside in the same country your employer is based in. So long as you perform the work required of you, the paycheques (and the opportunities) will keep on coming. Millennials are taking advantage of this working model, especially because it gives them more choices around entering the housing market but it’s possible to rethink your career trajectory at any age by jumping off the traditional ‘ladder’ and finding the level of work and life which works for you.
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