Job for life: will you work there forever? Probably not.

contract work

This post is the first in an ongoing series looking at contract work. As employers’ needs change, the idea of a job for life for graduates is becoming less and less likely. In this week’s post, we’ll look at how you can prepare for the future.


It’s an old expression, but “job for life” used to have a lot of meaning and emotion behind it. The idea that someone would go straight from school or university into a company and retire there was not only common about a hundred years ago just after the completion of the second industrial revolution (not that long ago, all thing considered), for many, it came with a sense of pride and loyalty.


The idea that someone could contribute to the growth of an organisation and progress through the ranks with a gold watch at the end was the ideal. Looking at employment mobility since about the 1950s, however, that’s been changing very rapidly.


Rather than one or two jobs in a lifetime, trends indicate that people are having more jobs for shorter periods of time, pushed, in part by the fact we are in another industrial revolution. The rise of transient migration (which we covered on the pod) means employees and to a degree employers are viewing work in terms of projects rather than positions.


Depending on where you live, current trends indicate you are likely to have upwards of 12-15 jobs in your life. Bear in mind, of course, that this is only the current number. Trends have seen the amount of jobs increasing over time and the age of retirement pushed back, so hypothetically, you could find that you have 20 jobs in your life. The rise of contract work could see that pushed up to 40 jobs!


To add more to the amount of change you’ll experience in your lifetime, you’re also likely going to have five careers and it is becoming even less likely you’ll be working in a role immediately relevant to your education.


What does this mean for you?

Apart from the obvious, it means you’re going to need to start getting better and better at understanding who you are as a potential employee. With trends moving towards short term employment, knowing how to bridge the gap between one job and the next will become a necessity.


This means understanding how to tailor your resume (if they continue to exist) and your elevator pitch to become immediately relevant to the job and the employer will become a must have skill. Understanding the language of a job listing and how that relates to the needs of an employer will put you ahead of everyone else.


Interestingly, by becoming adept at securing short-term work, you are also increasing your exposure for future opportunities as you broaden your network. If you are keen to find long term employment, in the vicinity of 5-10 years, a large network along with a track record of performance is a great way to get started.


It is, of course, hard to predict the future of employment with 100% accuracy. Maybe a job for life will come back into fashion again soon. Trends always change but at the base of finding that first job is always the need to communicate your abilities in a meaningful way.


Successful Graduate is all about helping you understand your value propositions and getting you more in tune with your soft skills. Find out how to start expanding your network, start preparing for the future and sign up to the course now.

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