Over at Fast Company, Anya Kamenetz has a fascinating article on “The Career of the Future.” Complete with timelines of several people’s working lives, the piece claims that the median tenure of a worker on the job these days is 4 years. Forget lifetime employment. Now we have 10-11 jobs apiece. How do you navigate that world?
Strategic job hopping is a big part of it, moving in concentric circles to get closer to where you want to be, taking jobs that help you develop new competencies, but always understanding that a gig may not last. We have projects now, not jobs. You maintain your network with people you actually like who will look out for you when circumstances change. You save when times are good to survive when times are bad (or at least that’s my advice; Anya kindly quotes me later on in the piece).
Yes, such a career doesn’t offer much stability. But the stability implied by a job with a large corporation has become a mirage. In ten years of freelancing, I have seen almost all my clients come and go (with the notable exception of USA Today). Publications open and shut, editors move around and I fall in and out of favor. But by having lots of gigs, you create your own stability. It’s more of a portfolio career.
What’s the longest you’ve ever stayed in one job?
photo courtesy flickr user Voka – Kamer van Koophandel Limburg