The 21st Century Career: What’s changed?

We spend around 90,000 hours of our lives at work, yet UK workers’ job satisfaction continues to fall.

According to one study, satisfaction figures in London are even lower than the rest of the UK, with almost 80% of workers reporting they are unhappy in their job.

I have often wondered why so many people stay in jobs they aren’t happy with, tolerating such seemingly low levels of job satisfaction.

It’s fair to say that careers today don’t look like the careers of 20, 10, or even 5 years ago.

Gone are the days of the elusive ‘job for life’. And gone are the days where that’s all we want from our careers.

People today want more from their jobs than just a steady income and to slowly climb the corporate ladder. Financial security will always be important, particularly with rising rent and living costs. But there are other factors that have overtaken money as priorities for workers of the 21st century.

We want to be valued, to feel that our contribution is being recognised and to be able to understand how we are contributing to the business’ success. We want our work to have purpose.

No job or career is perfect, but with advances in technology and globalisation, there are more opportunities to shift your career in a direction that suits you. The Internet can help you build a portfolio career, work remotely, freelance, or run your own business online. There are more job vacancies listed online than ever before, and sites like LinkedIn can help connect us to information, people and industries that we may not have otherwise discovered.

But be warned…

While the Internet can provide tonnes of relevant information, from career advice and company profiles, to job vacancies and salary reviews, navigating this vast array of information can be tricky. Knowing where to look and who to trust is challenging, and that’s before you even begin trying to figure out what it is you’re actually looking for.

The ease of which we can connect to each other and apply for jobs presents great opportunities, but also a number of challenges. For example, many job postings now offer quick one-click applications, meaning the effort required to throw your hat in the ring for a job is minimal.  However, this often encourages panicked job seekers to take a scattergun approach, prioritising the submission of a high volume of untailored applications over a select number of carefully written bespoke applications.

This “quantity over quality” approach has provided recruiters with an unprecedented volume of applications for each vacancy, making it harder for them to decipher between candidates. Consequently, this makes it even more challenging for great candidates to stand out from the crowd.

A higher volume of lower or average quality applications results in more candidates receiving rejections, or – perhaps even worse – no response at all. Rejection and radio silence are never easy to deal with, and both can have a severe impact on job seekers’ motivation and confidence. This results in further issues, as motivation and confidence are two of the essential ingredients required to help candidates secure the best possible job.

So, what can we do about this?

In short, we can use technology purposefully. Rather than using it to mass apply for jobs we aren’t even sure we want, we can conduct focused, strategic research to help us work out exactly what we want to aim for.

As well as this, we can use the Internet to explore employers and job roles, to build our network, create new connections and have useful and meaningful career conversations with others.

If you’d like to learn more about how my career programmes help people take control of their career, have a look at my one-to-one career programmes.

Further reading

Fed up with the world? Try some anti-trolling 

Trust your own instincts, not mine 

Goals: Can you have too much of a good thing?


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