Careers are over

Most of us realize that just having a job does not make it a career. But there are a lot of us out there that think the goal in our adult working life is to have a career, not just a job.

Unfortunately, careers are over.

Think about it. In my personal history, I’ve been a project manager, a design dude, a sales person, a manager, a director (super manager), a pundit, a web dude, a consultant and an entrepreneur all the while looking for what I wanted to do when I grew up. Not exactly the traditional path to a career where ladders are climbed, enemies are vanquished and income hits the top 1%.

Earlier, in eighteen years working for the same company, I never had the same job nor manager for two consecutive performance reviews. Hell, in my current consulting gig, I’ve had four managers in one year. You expect to create a career out of this?

The days of our fathers and grandfathers — where grey flannel suits reigned and there was lifetime employment at a company — are over. I just can’t believe people still think that type of employment still exists. Have we seen the layoffs? The outsourcing? The downsizing? The increased productivity? How could any person reasonably conclude that a career could come from all that?

The answer is: it can’t.

There are no more careers. There is no job security. There is only employment security.

I have a friend who’s mantra on LinkedIn is this: “Have laptop, will travel.” That’s a good assessment of employment in this time and in this place. We have skills. We can use those job skills to help hiring managers reach their goals. And when we do our job well, we can show our business results to others, showing them that we can help them reach their business goals. That’s employment security.

Do enough of that and, perhaps, you get a career. But pining for a career is long gone.

Have a job in which you can produce business results that you can show the next hiring manager. And the next. And the next. That’s the miracle.

Harsh? Yup. True?

  • Well thee goes certainty, how are you excepted to but long term items such as cars and homes it you don’t have stable employment.

    • You think you have stable employment now? After the Great Recession you think employment is stable? Ummm…no.

  • True, but who will pay for the constant retraining?  Those of us who do not make top salaries, but merely a living wage, simply cannot afford to continue paying for more and more and more education.  And healthcare as well?  Again, if you make only a living wage, you cannot not afford to move from job to job if there is healthcare benefits involved.

    In theory, this all sounds great; in reality, I don’t see how it won’t leave way too many people in the dust.

    • You gain additional job skills from the job you are in. You take advantage of projects you are assigned to in order to increase your skills. You get results on the job and you keep track of those results and put them on your resume so your next hiring manager sees them. 

      That’s how you work job skills and results on the job. And you do this so you can move within a company if it is large enough. Not all are large enough, but many are.

      Now, healthcare is a problem right now. It is a constant struggle with the plans and the cost. If you are in the United States, this hopefully becomes less of a problem in 2014 with the ACA and the exchanges. I’m hoping it frees up this notion of working for a company — and trapped — because there is health insurance there. It’s a real problem. 

      But don’t bang your head against the wall — you gain skills while working on the job, not through paying out of pocket for education. Get those business results and get them on a resume. That’s what hiring managers want to see — job skills and results.

  • Before retiring last December I worked for many years as a labor market economist, and also as a project manager in leadership development. The end of the employment contract (a job for life if you were a loyal employee) was espoused by many during the nineties and 2000s. However, reality is now setting in as work goes increasingly virtual and as emerging economies grab market share from Canadian and American companies.

    Gen Y seems to be getting it by understanding that they have to be mobile, not just geographically but in attitude and adaptability. The least of society’s problem now is careers for young people but rather employability and obtaining employment. Witness the rapidly growing protests not just in the U.S. (eg, Wall Street) but in boring Canada.

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