People who dismiss Career Motion say that you need to plan ahead – sometimes up to ten years – in order to achieve success, and that too much change will only cause stress and hinder growth.
To which I say: 1) sure, you can plan ahead and still be a Career Nomad, and 2) are you kidding me??
People who have every step of their lives articulated ten years out are both insulating themselves from reality, and are increasingly becoming extinct.
Change is coming, people – and it’s going to hit you even harder if you don’t know how to deal with it.
Let’s take a look at the massive structural forces that have already impacted – and will contact to impact – your career.
The 15+ years of economic growth seen by developed countries leading up to and through the 1990s were, in some ways, incredibly detrimental.
People got used to markets expanding, seemingly forever. They got used to stock valuations going up, even as they pulled away from traditional barometers.
And – apart from the manufacturing industry – they got used to companies hiring, hiring, hiring.
Then came the slow-burning crash that started in 2000, and everyone got jolted back to reality.
But wait: governments started lowering taxes and pumping state “investments” into the economy, so everything was good again.
Phew. That horrible economy didn’t last long – back to the good times!
Until 2007, when the economy became even more horrible.
Since 2007, we’ve seen historic lay-offs and stock crashes, historic stock soars, tech giants crumble, tech start-ups become giants – and on, and on…
Seems like the economy has had its extreme ups and downs.
And who’s been pulled this way and that by universal forces?
Above, we mentioned that pretty much everyone did well in the 1990s – except the manufacturing industry.
In the 1990s, a shift to developing countries picked up sufficient steam that factory workers stopped looking at the clock to see when their shift ended – and started looking to the calendar to see how much time they had left in their jobs.
Since the 90s, manufacturing was joined by some unfortunate friends. Retail has gone from specialty stores to box stores, and seemingly specialty stores again. Chain restaurants seem bigger than ever, and those that don’t belong to a chain tend to charge $100 for a hamburger.
White collar companies have started the Jack Welch trend of contracting out all back office functions: HR, finance, procurement, you name it.
3. Nature of Employment
There was a time when you might be expected to work the same job for the same company for your entire career. Maybe you’d get a promotion or two, but who wanted to fight too hard for it?
Now, people entering the work force hop employers every couple of years.
That’s if they even become employees at all.
Employees used to be dangled and stretched from lay-off to hire, fire to boom times. This pushed a lot of people into self-employment, and the world hasn’t looked back.
Companies now realize that hiring self-employed individuals – or even just hiring people who never set foot in the office – provides tons of flexibility for them. Need to lay people off? No buy-out packages required. Need to hire lots more people? With the ability to cancel contracts easily, why bother with huge staffing processes – just pick up a few casual contracts.
Don’t look for that lifelong employer, ‘cause it just ain’t gonna happen.
4. The Bright Side
Sounds like a lot of change is happening already, doesn’t it?
Isn’t that horrible?
Not even close.
Stasis provides more of the same, while change creates possibility.
The old job market was like being given a giant tomato every day for lunch. Sure, it tastes good, but it gets kind of boring after a while, doesn’t it?
The new job market is like taking that tomato into a full kitchen with all of the spices, ingredients, and knives you’d ever want. Now you can take that vegetable and make it into salad, pasta sauce, pizza sauce, sandwich dressing, and… I’d better stop before I get too hungry.
Look, maybe I’m biased: I’m not a long-term planner. This has probably (definitely?) harmed me in some ways, but kept me sane in far more ways.
I do, however, love goals. And those goals are personally aligned to what I want, and they’re planned out (yes, planned) according to what’s within my span of control.
I don’t put my faith in the job market, or any one employer. I see them as players in a chess game – and I refuse to be a piece.
Planning will always be a virtue.
Just make sure you’re planning for the right things.
“Permanence” in the job market is on life support – are you ready to pull the plug? Tell us in the comments!