Do you like change? If so, this is definitely your year, at least as far as careers go.
We have always experienced changes, jobs that disappear and others that arise that we could not have imagined. Goodbye buggy whip factory, hello digital marketing team.
Now we seem to be manufacturing new areas of work straight from science fiction, at the rate of one new area per hour. That’s probably an exaggeration, but to be honest, I can’t be sure – people who track this stuff have a hard time keeping up with their reports.
Here’s what I know: Not only has the pace of change related to the types of careers we pursue accelerated, but also changes to the workplace itself and to our beliefs about work. Think about what we have been through over the past two years:
- A renewed interest in trade unions, especially for front-line professions;
- A significant increase in wages (compared to previous years), starting with minimum wage initiatives in many cities and states and moving through wage increases for a growing number of positions at all levels;
- Moderation of employers’ demands for university degrees as a prerequisite for candidates, combined with a renewed (if reluctant) commitment by companies to train their workers in-house;
- Increased acceptance by employers of applicants with disabilities, criminal backgrounds, or other circumstances that were previously not considered optimal;
- The almost universal understanding that many, if not most, jobs can be performed partly or entirely as remote positions;
- The wooing of seniors as valuable assets, to the point of bringing them out of retirement with adapted working hours and conditions.
I could go on and on and not cover everything that happened in a very short time in workplaces large and small. Heck, I’m not even counting the constant technological changes in almost every aspect of our jobs. The fact that you can now buy a programmable ergonomic desk is enough to tell the story: when we replace a simple table top with a digitally controlled desk, we absorb technological change at a very fundamental level.
Most of these changes are recent enough that a reasonable person wonders if they will be permanent. Some, like rising wages, already seem to be losing ground, in the face of inflation and high costs for essentials like housing and fuel.
Even so, it’s hard to imagine we’ll be back to where we were a few years ago when it comes to workplace transformations and worker expectations of their jobs.
With that in mind, whether you’re 25 or 75, it’s time to revisit your assumptions, beliefs, and work practices. Some may be valid, but others may hold you back. Consider these five options that you might not have considered possible even five years ago:
Get your dream job. Whatever the job, if you set aside the dream of the past as unobtainable, it’s worth revisiting. With more short-term training opportunities and more employer needs, you may find an entry point into the field that didn’t exist before.
Start a business. Gone are the days when every startup required full-time attention and full support from a bank or investors. Through the strategic use of technology, entrepreneurs are discovering that some businesses can be operated as part-time, low-capital businesses.
Remote work. What was once considered a perk offered by a rare set of employers is now a common process. As a result, workers with health issues, babysitting obligations, or simply a desire to work remotely can access a wide range of opportunities.
Coaching. With a seemingly endless variety of training configurations on offer, workers can earn degrees, obtain certificates, and even access technical training at distant schools, adding to their employability and earning potential.
Part-time work. The part-time game has changed significantly, with wider acceptance by employers of part-time workers at all levels, including the use of “split” executives to provide only a few days a week of high-level support as employees rather than as consultants.
Are you ready to throw away the old approaches and build your career on the new realities of today’s working world? Check back next week for a look at what this could mean in terms of milestones, as well as risks and rewards.
Amy Lindgren owns a career consulting firm in St. Paul. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.