Today’s career challenges

Not long ago, there was a predictable workplace where you could depend on continuous employment and job security. With minimal planning, your career and life ‘happened to you’.

Consequently, we’re unprepared for today’s career challenges.

In a workplace where change and competition raise varying levels of uncertainty, even the most confident individuals wonder “where do I fit?” and “what’s my future?” And the answers are not quickly forthcoming.

It is pleasing, then, to know that some people view this change as positive and rewarding. Like Pollyanna, we’ve put on our smiley faces and adopted euphemisms for the changes around us. We call the new career landscape a ‘mosaic’, people are expected to become ‘skilled at managing a portfolio of careers’, formulating ‘proposals for career moves’ and then ‘smoothly transitioning between jobs’. Now transition sounds so easy, so nice. One has visions of a graceful glide from one position to another – degree of difficulty 4.5.

It is quite unlike the reality of the working world.  What often happens is that people are casualised, destabilised and marginalised. Workers find out about their redundancy on the late night news or they are the ones who have sat at their same desk for four years and worked for three different companies only to find out that the urge to merge is closely followed by the urge to purge.

One woman I know likes to think of her career in terms of Lego. She says she’s very good at building a space stations that transition to ambulances.  I must say my attempts to build with Lego as a child ended up with my space station looking more like the shuttle disaster, where all the King’s horses and all the King’s men were unable to put it together again.

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