Is there such a thing as a job for life in the 21st century?

Is a job for life something we look for anymore?

Recently I asked the 17-year-old daughter of a friend what having a ‘job for life’ meant to her. She looked at me with a questioning expression and just replied ‘that’s something that existed in the 1960’s, isn’t it?’

After we all stopped laughing, I started to think that if the young people of the 21st century think that working for the same company all your working life is something from the history books, is it?

Job for life: a job that you can stay in all your working life. Definition from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press.

Job for life in the past

According to research by Life insurance firm LV= a UK employee will change jobs on average every five years.  In the United States, official statistics show that it’s even lower with employees moving on to new employers every four years.

In previous generations ‘job hopping’ would have been frowned upon. I know my parents would never have left a job without a very good reason. Today it can be the only way to progress in your career or get a pay rise.

The size of the organisation can make a difference to how long employees stay working for a single employer.  Larger companies are more likely to be able offer career progression. Staff can move to different departments and gain promotions. Smaller employers can’t always offer the same opportunities. This means that employees feel the need to change jobs to get the promotions and the career opportunities that they desire.

Job for life no longer exists

There are some sectors that see employees changing jobs more often. Technology, PR and advertising are renowned for regular employee movement. Reasons can be to keep up to date with changes in the industry or to move onto new projects.

It really is down to the individual how many job changes they have in their working life. But, in the 21st century the idea of being able, or even wanting, to stay with one company and get everything you need at every stage of your working life isn’t a realistic one.

OK, so I’ve found that a job for life isn’t the norm anymore. But, how do companies judge job changes when they see them in our CVs?

I asked one of the LMR Consultants Rachael Bell, who works in our Newcastle Branch, what her thoughts are when she views a CV:

”When reviewing a candidate CV initially I’m looking for where they have been working and the skills they have. Then I’ll look at the length of time they have held the jobs.  When they have been working permanently I’d expect them to have been with the employer a minimum of 18 months.  Anything less than that and I would ask them about why they left. I’d want to get a clearer picture of why they made each move and ensure there were no commitment or other working issues.”

”It really depends on the industries they have been working in, if they have been doing temporary or contract work I’d expect a higher number of companies on their CV. Clients want to know that they are interviewing potential employees that will bring something with them to help their company grow. If moving around a few jobs gets them the right experience that makes them the perfect candidate then they have done the right thing.”

So, things have changed, but change isn’t always bad. You’re in charge of your career and work life, maybe it’s time to look for a new job!  Take a look at our latest vacancies.

Anice McNamee (Marketing Manager)