The Changing Landscape of Career Success
Over last 35 years since I graduated from college, views of career success have changed dramatically.
In 1979, I graduated from college with an engineering degree and had two job offers. Many of my friends had 3 or more job offers. My college debt that was paid off within 3 years. My expectation was to earn a comfortable living in my chosen career and to readily find a new employer in the case of a job loss through layoffs. For a while, this was true.
Like many of my colleagues, I felt a degree of job stability and, accordingly, I thought it unfair not to stay with an employer for at least 3 years before considering a career move to another employer. I had a sense of loyalty towards my employer and a perception that they had some commitment and loyalty towards me.
Flash forward 35 years and the landscape is dramatically transformed.
Today’s college graduate may be faced with enormous college debt and must work at whatever job they can find just to pay bills. It could take months, even years, before he secures a job in his chosen career field. Needless to say, the landscape for a high school graduate is even more bleak.
Furthermore, income growth for all but those in the top 5% of wage earners have not kept up with inflation as indicated by this chart from the Economic Policy Institute- the State of Working America.
Job stability, once the staple of professional workers is now gone.
Engineers, accountants, architects, lawyers and many others face an inevitable certainty of layoffs followed by long periods of unemployment prior to finding another employer. Not surprisingly, workers’ attitudes towards employers have changed as well. Loyalty has evaporated and many simply hope to hang on to a job as long as possible, even if they don’t care much for the environment. Career success seems to have become an oxymoron.
Now for Some Good News – New Options and Choices
The news is not all bad, however.
Rapid advances in technology that have brought volatility and uncertainty to the average worker’s world; have, at the same time, completely transformed the tools and options available to entrepreneurs – especially inventors.
With a few key clicks, anyone has access to a vast repository of valuable information on every topic. Research has never been easier than it is today with the tools enabled by technology. Additionally, crowd funding and peer-to-peer lending and borrowing provide many options to access capital that did not exist 5 years ago.
I believe we are entering the golden age for inventors and other creative entrepreneurs. The barriers to entry are lower and the tools to aid success are more plentiful and accessible than ever before.