What is a job for life in the 21st century? - Emerge UK
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What is a job for life in the 21st century?

According to a national newspaper, the concept of a ‘job for life’ is so alien in our modern world that the story of someone holding down a role with the same employer for consecutive decades made their pages. Granted, the employee – Monica Evans, an accountant at an engineering firm – had been in the same job for 70 years, which is some feat. But it made us think about how much careers have changed over the last 50 years. The tone of the article led us to believe that even an employee working 50 years for the same employer would have been similarly newsworthy, because we’re so used to hearing of people’s portfolio careers, the rise in self-employment, and numerous other scenarios in our employment marketplace today.

Go back two generations – perhaps even one in some industries – and having a job for life was not just possible and desired, but the norm. Many fathers learned a trade, or studied towards a professional status, secured a role, and just kept to the same 9 to 5 until they retired. How many people do that now?

Ms. Evans, the subject of the article, admits to always being ‘very happy’ in her job, saying she felt ‘settled’. Describing her bosses and colleagues as ‘friendly and welcoming’, it’s clear that she felt fulfilled. Maybe two generations ago, it was easier to feel that within your job.

Fast forward to today, and that could be the crux of the matter. There are so many opportunities out there, that the knock-on effect is we want more. As employees, or business owners, we’re not prepared to just ‘put up and shut up’, as there are so many other possibilities on every horizon.

What are the requisites of a ‘good job’?

As we’ve said before, it’s not always a bulging pay packet that makes someone feel satisfied or fulfilled in their role. Nor the perks, the hours, or the view from their office window.

Conversely, you may already have the perfect job, suited to your skills and passions, which pays well and fits your circumstances. If you are lucky enough to have all this but you still feel uncomfortable, unsettled, or dissatisfied, the problem may not be your job at all.

In this respect, career coaching would prove a huge help. Not because you necessarily need to move or progress, but as a way to dig down to your true feelings about your job and your future. Though there are companies that will invest in the development of its people in a bid to retain them (for one reason, refilling positions and carrying out induction/training on a regular basis can be a huge financial drain for companies), there are just as many who don’t see the return on such an investment, preferring instead to fund only job-related development. Your personal development may need to become your investment.

Portfolio or multi-strand?

A portfolio career can sometimes be dubbed a ‘multi-strand career’. Whereas those wanting to progress in their careers can sometimes be forced to take on more than one position for financial survival, the outlook today is changing: ambitious, driven individuals can often choose a myriad of roles, even if they don’t need to from a financial position. Why experience/do well in one sector when I can have a hand in both? How do I know what my passion is if I don’t try things out? Why be limited?!

It’s been said that today’s graduates that are starting out, with their whole working lives ahead of them, are already so used to choice as a consumer that they simply don’t see a career without it.

The downsides (and there has to be at least some, naturally) usually feature pay and prospects. Being part-time in a job doesn’t necessarily make you a good candidate for promotion against a full-time employee – even if you do get to work on a range of exciting projects in a trade-off, during flexible hours, and at the workplace of your choice (hello, Starbucks!).

People working in the arts and creative sectors are perhaps the most used to multi-strand careers, though these may not yield the same financial gain as other indsutries. A portfolio career in this scenario may clearly be a trade-off: work part-time in a job that offers stability and a regular income (even if it’s not what they want to do), to explore the riskier elements of their portfolio careers. Those that they do for love, not money (well, at first). Starting out, few authors, artists, dancers or musicians can command a decent wage. Something has to be bring in the bacon until they’re more established, until their customer base will pay more for their time or creations.

Again, career coaching, even when you know you’re on the right path doing something you love, is still an effective investment. Is there a quicker path to the ‘big time’? What do you want from your career(s)? What if things don’t change, and your break never comes or your platform doesn’t build? What then? And how can you stop that from happening? A good coach will help you find the answer to every single one of those questions.

The professionals always represent the easier, shorter way. You could sell your house yourself tomorrow, using the various technological tools available, and the internet. Or, you could engage an estate agent and possibly get more of a return from the sale and a hassle-free experience. Having a plan for your multi-strand career will be much more effective than the alternative: winging it.

Why coaching?

Coaching is a tool to use; it helps us see the wood for the trees and dissipates the fog that often occurs when significant changes are on the horizon. Coaching helps people fight the stasis that indecision and fear brings, and moves them forward, towards goals that have been thoroughly explored and decided upon.

If you’d like Emerge to coach teams, departments or individuals within your organisation, or if you’re an individual who would benefit from career coaching and a confidential, effective sounding board and facilitator, contact us on 01329 820580, or email us at info@emergeuk.com.

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