7 trends that have changed the world of work and how to adapt



Welcome to the new “work order”.  The career as we know it is dead.  You may not realize it, but you just got promoted to BOSS, the boss of your career.  And here’s how to deal with it .

1. Out: The Traditional Career
In: The Short-term/Multiple Careers/Multiple income stream Model

The career as we know it is dead.

Just like you’ve heard many times over the last few years, “this is not your parents’ job search”, it probably obvious that you shouldn’t expect that 40-year retirement watch either. We no longer live in a world of the “lifetime career” and nor can one job serve as a reliable source of income.

The writing has been on the wall for a long time. In 1994 William Bridges wrote Job Shift, How To Prosper In A Workplace Without Jobs; In 2001, Daniel Pink followed with Free Agent Nation and in 2007 Marci Alboher acknowledged one of the most important trends to arise in the world of work in her book One Person/Multiple Careers.

Take away: Marci Alboher encourages the concept of the Slash career such as the lawyer/chef, surgeon/writer or writer/teacher. How many different skills, interests or roles can you leverage to create different careers and income sources? Whether they are complimentary or not, when one falls away, which may be out of choice or not, you will have ongoing sources of income. Penelope Trunk, a leading thinker on career trends writes about embracing the braided career.

The sooner professionals acknowledge that work today is a far more fluid concept and comes in different forms (contract, full-time, part-time, consulting/entrepreneur) one will be able to transition far more easily from one to the next.

2. Out: Full-time Permanent Jobs
In: Contract/Part-time/Consulting Work

Peter Weddle, an HR executive and self-proclaimed career activist recently wrote that what is on most peoples’ minds is “an honest-to-goodness, full time permanent job,”….. “but what has changed is that the definition of an honest-to-goodness full-time permanent job now looks uncomfortably like an honest-to-goodness full-time here-today-gone-tomorrow job.”

The new reality that is hard for most people to digest is that every job is temporary and we live in a Freelance economy. The tenure of your next position is probably going to allow you just enough time to get to know your colleagues before you move on.

Take away: Learn how to manage a professional life that will take you in and out different roles. Some may be full-time, some may be contract. Call yourself a consultant, and actively seek out contract work, because maybe that is what your ideal employers are happier creating right now.

In Jobshift, William Bridges called for professionals to stop thinking with an “employee” mentality and rather like a free-agent, and be “vendor-minded”. If you follow this advice, you’ll get into vendor/ consultant/ business creator mode.

Instead of shooting your resume out to every job online, reverse your strategy. Create a plan to market your skills, and think B2B & B2C.

Bridges reminded us back then and it’s as important today, “Everything is a Market.” With the dramatic shifts in the economy and workplace today, companies as well as individuals are your clients or customers.

Where to find this short-term, contract work? Look no further than trend #3.

3. Out: Job Boards as the only source of work
In: Websites to market your skills to a broad clientele

Did you notice Freelancer.com is one of the sponsors of this blogging competition? If you thought that they were just waiting for the next graphic artist or writer to click on their link, think again. They’re waiting for you.

Welcome to the new Freelance economy.

According to their website, Freelancer.com helps professionals in “software, writing, data entry and design right through to engineering and the sciences, sales and marketing, and accounting & legal services.” As the boss of your career, your job is to establish a broad & diverse pipeline of work.

Take away: Whether you want to call yourself the “Boss” of You, Inc., a “freelancer” or if you prefer, a consultant, no matter what skill set you have, check out these sites to see if they serve professionals like yourself.

Introducing the new “Job Board”: Welcome Solvate.com, icrunchdata.com, sologig.com, Flexibleresources.com, as they join old timers Elance and other freelance marketplaces. A new phenomenon are micro freelance marketplaces like Fiverr: The place for people to share things they’re willing to do for $5.

Yes, I know this sucks, and the rates for freelance work in the beginning can be low, but before you roll your eyes at the idea, hear me out. Don’t you want to build your clientele? While you may not get paid the rate you want, (or need to pay the bills) clients are getting to know your work, and will pay you more the second time around. You are building your portfolio of work, and you are building up your confidence to ask for more the next time you prospect a consulting opportunity.

What do you have to lose? This way, you can build up testimonials and people who can refer you your next clients!

4. Out: Reliant on stable skill set
In: Constant Retooling

The rapid changes in technology require that every professional needs to be staying on top of these advances. Social media is a prime example.

Once the territory of only the most media savvy, social media is quickly becoming (if not already) a critical skill set in careers that would have never needed them before. No one, not college grads, nor baby boomers can afford to sit back and think they are immune to the constant upgrading of skills.

Richard Bowles noted in his book, The Three boxes of life and how to get out of them that the traditional model of learning, working and leisure as three separate stages in our lives no longer applies. He proposed that people should consider learning, working and leisure all as lifelong endeavors.

His vision is proving true. Many baby boomers can no longer afford to retire and enjoy “the leisure” promised in our old way of life.

Take away: Knowledge is power. Invest in yourself because you can’t afford to stop learning.

Do what you can to keep up to date with your industry or new career interests. You can learn (almost) anything through “Google University”, from free classes via MIT or YouTube, you can find a podcast or free webinars on just about anything and you can hear tales from the trenches by the experts you want to emulate.

Adding to your skill set on a regular basis not only will keep you relevant; it just might keep you employed.

5. Out: Company manages your career
In: You are the Boss and CMO of your career

Just a generation ago, our parents and grandparents spent their entire professional life working for “The Man”. We learned that getting a job with a stable company was the reliable thing to do, and the corporation would “take care of you.”

In the new economy, you have been promoted, whether you like it or not, to be the boss of you. And in order to do this job well you better be a good business manager, because that’s what you are now.

Take away: Since you are going to have to be on the constant look out for work, every 2-3 years, you have no choice but to create a Sales and Marketing Department in your home office and become the Chief Marketing Officer of You Inc. If you don’t, who will?

What you may not realize is that your marketing budget will cost you $0. With social media tools at everyone’s fingertips, you have access to the launch pad you’ll need to maintain the visibility and credibility to stay top of mind amongst hiring managers and recruiters.

6. Out: Desktop Rolodex
In: Online social networks

Your Rolodex has always been the most important item in your job search and career arsenal. Is yours sitting frayed and out of date on your desk or is it updated daily via LinkedIn?

A strong network is more than ever, the ultimate career (read: business) insurance and your Rolodex is now on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Maybe you have more connections on Facebook than LinkedIn, (and I’m not just talking about college students and recent graduates) but do you recognize that this network is the key to your next job or new career?

Take away: Reconsider your attitude and approach to social networking sites. Referral is the most successful job search and business building strategy.

Ignore social networking at your own peril.

7. Out: Stability & Security
In: Instability

I remember the day when many of my career-exploring clients would pick security as the most important determining factor in their choice.

That option does not exist anymore.

Such a trend is hard to comprehend in terms of what it means for our own lives. In helping her twenty-something audience get used to this trend, Penelope Trunk noted that one has to learn to “create stability through transition.” She encouraged her readers to “become a master of transition… You need to stop thinking that the transitions are going to end as soon as you grow up. Security isn’t what you think, not any more. Keeping your head down, following the rules, putting in your time; today that behavior doesn’t come with guarantees.”

Takeaway: Learn to become a master of transitions and you will survive.


2 Comments on “7 trends that have changed the world of work and how to adapt

  1. Wonderful post and coming on the heels of our Global Career Brainstorming Day, it contains ideas echoing those discussed. All the more reason to find your ideal career – a job you truly enjoy, that used your talents, that needs your strengths – otherwise all the effort required, so well outlined in your blog, will be daunting. Do what you love and all this learning, development, change and adjusting will be exciting rather than daunting!

  2. Hi Stephanie,
    Thanks very much for your comment. I did not attend the Brainstorming day this year, but I am so pleased that my thinking is being confirmed by our colleagues in the field. Managing a career today takes on a whole new meaning in our world today. Which Career brainstorming group did you join this year?

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