WHY TODAY'S PROFESSIONALS ARE TAKING THE CAREER ROAD LESS TRAVELED
In a world where innovators from Steve Jobs to Vimeo CEO Anjali Sud have legitimized and even glamorized the nonlinear career path, the days of graduating and climbing the corporate ladder at one company for a decade seem like a distant memory. In fact, edX research found that 29% of Americans ages 25 to 44 have completely changed fields since starting their first job post-college.
Zig-zagging is not a phenomenon restricted to new grads, however, and while another study from Deloitte found that 43% of millennials plan to quit their current job within two years, a report from the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently cited by JP Morgan Chase & Co. found that job hopping, across all fields and titles, has become a widely accepted characteristic of the modern workforce.
But how did this modern career trajectory come to be, and what does it mean for the future of work? A variety of factors can be attributed to the rise of the nonlinear career path, and professionals should be ready to take advantage of the opportunities it presents.
Reskill And Upskill Without Breaking The Bank
One reason why career paths are less predictable than they used to be can be credited to the crushing debt afflicting millions of college graduates, in concert with the growing presence of affordable opportunities for continued and/or alternative education paths. According to a New America report, the average U.S. student has a median combined $57,600 in debt accrued from undergraduate/graduate study. The same aforementioned edX study found that 39% of respondents say a chief driver of continuous job shifting is the desire for salary increase as they try to meet these hefty loan payments each month. As more universities partner with online learning platforms to offer affordable opportunities to reskill and upskill, it’s becoming easier to make significant career changes.
Additionally, a study by McKinsey found that over 375 million workers—or roughly 14% of the global workforce—may be forced to switch occupational categories as digital transformation, automation, and advances in artificial intelligence disrupt the world of work. As careers have become more fragmented and fluid, higher education is responding by developing innovative online learning models to support those who want to hone new skills in developing fields like cybersecurity and data science – without having to pay the $30,000-$120,000 tab or quit work and go on-campus for one or two more years. These online programs can be as short as a four-week course, all the way up to a two-year, fully online Master’s degree. Larissa, an edX learner, is one example. Eager to move out of her current role in sales and into web development, Larissa began the W3C’s Front-End Web Developer Professional Certificate program. Upon completing the program, she was able to catapult her new career to new heights – all without breaking the bank or ever taking time off from work.
Another learner, Aditi, chose to pursue online learning options in order to upskill in her current field. Having worked in data security for a few years, she realized that as cyberattacks become more sophisticated, so do the security tools. In order to stay relevant, she took Introduction to Computational Thinking and Data Science from MIT to learn the latest in foundational tools needed on the path to creating the next generation of security tools.
By offering solutions that allow learners at all career stages to reskill and upskill as they embark on new career paths, education providers are inspiring a more passionate, informed, and versatile workforce, and working to close major skills gaps in these new technology-driven fields.
Embrace The Development Of Transferable Skills
Because there’s no longer a stigma associated with job hopping, employees have unlimited options when it comes to shaping their own career path. Those who change fields early and often have the opportunity to focus on the development of transferable skills – problem solving, time management and relationship building, to name a few.
In fact, many recruiting professionals say that today, when looking at candidates, transferable skills hold significantly more weight than their academic record or relevant work experience. Employees should leverage modern online programs that offer certifications in skills that are conducive to the kind of professional development that will pay dividends in the age of the anything-but-linear career path, including leadership, team management and more.
Diversify Your Network
Lastly, a major benefit of a nonlinear career paths is the expansive professional network that will undoubtedly result from changing fields early and often. By leveraging modern networking tools and attending events and conferences across industries, today’s young professionals will be more connected than any generation before them. Further, an employee’s prior experience in other industries can inspire a more holistic perspective that they can leverage to be more creative in their new role.
Ultimately, professionals who take advantage of the opportunities afforded by the acceptance and rise of the nonlinear career path will reap the benefits of a more versatile skill set. Affordable and accessible education opens the doors to develop the latest in-demand skills, as well as transferable skills that are valuable and applicable in every job situation. The fluidity of careers also allows for a diverse professional network, which can result in more frequent opportunities. What might you learn by taking the career road less traveled? SOURCE: Forbes