Workers Are More Willing to Change Jobs

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By Gayle Cinquegrani

Workers in previous generations often valued their job mostly for the paycheck and endured it until retirement. Modern workers consider other factors—including their happiness and career development—and leave when they’re not satisfied.

People want a sense of “purpose within a job,” Phyllis Millikan, senior vice president for career management at Right Management, told Bloomberg BNA April 14. “This isn’t a trend that we saw in the past.”

Employees have “rising expectations” about their jobs and employers with respect to career development, education and training, Millikan said. “If they’re not growing their skills, they’ll look for new opportunities,” even if the new position isn’t a promotion to a higher level job, she said.

“Millennials view their career very differently from the historical view of careers,” Millikan said. They want the “ability to broaden their skill set and to find meaning and purpose,” she said.

If millennials don’t find that in their job, 37 percent will leave, according to a ManpowerGroup survey taken in January. Right Management is an arm of ManpowerGroup.

Executives Concerned With Advancement

The survey indicates executive-level employees are more concerned with upward mobility. It showed that 50 percent of executive-level employees would move to another company if they lack advancement opportunity in their current company.

“In the past, shifting jobs too often was a flag for many recruiters” that a job candidate was unreliable, Millikan said. This sentiment has shifted during the past five to seven years, so that now “staying in a position is often a flag for recruiters” that a worker lacks ambition, she said. “Now recruiters are looking for demonstrated growth,” she said.

The change “in employee expectations” for their jobs “will require employers to do more and become more engaged in their employees’ careers,” Millikan said. Some companies include career development and management “as a broader part of their talent strategy,” she said. “The organizations that are doing that are becoming more competitive,” she said.

Many career consultants and placement agencies recognize this new employee outlook. “My goal is to inspire people to go after what they want,” Jody B. Miller, chief executive officer of C2C Executive Search & Strategic Management in San Francisco, told Bloomberg BNA April 13. “My focus is helping people find what they’re meant to do” rather than simply placing them in available jobs. “I help people find meaning, and ultimately happiness,” she said.

Few Take the Plunge

More than 80 percent of people over 45 dream of making a career change, but only 6 percent do it, Miller said. Nevertheless, workers over 50 who change careers are usually happier and successful after moving to a new profession, she said.

“Sometimes you just have to jump in and follow your passion,” Miller said. Many people “are scared,” and Miller suggested they “start small.” For example, a person whose goal is to act could audition for a part in a play at a community theater.

Miller’s upcoming book, “From Drift to Shift,” presents true stories of people who have made career transitions. “People all have deeper stories than their professional resume,” Miller said.

Laying plans for a new career can be a good safety net, Cathy Goodwin, an internet-based career consultant and author in Philadelphia, told Bloomberg BNA April 14. “You have to assume that at some point you will have to leave” your job, Goodwin said, so it’s important to “have a Plan B” before you need it.

“A career change rarely happens overnight,” Goodwin said. It takes “usually two or three years to make a shift,” she said.

While still employed, a worker can prepare for his next move by taking training provided at work or outside courses subsidized by an employer, Goodwin said. “Think of your job as a vehicle to move to your next career,” she said.

Starting a Business

Some people “are at a point where they’re bored and want to do something different,” while others feel marginalized as younger people join the workforce, Goodwin said. “If you are 50 or even 45, it’s very hard to get a job,” she said. She urged people to prepare for a change by launching a business while they’re still employed.

Goodwin described this concept as “a pivot”—keeping one foot in place while changing direction.

“Start while you’re working, if at all possible, to get something going on the side,” Goodwin said. “Being able to be entrepreneurial is the closest thing you’ll ever have to job insurance.”

Having a sideline job actually can help a person succeed in their regular job, according to Goodwin. “If you’re not desperate, if you know you have something on the side, you’ll come across as confident and strong,” she said. “You have a better chance of staying employed because employers like people who are confident.”

To find their sideline job, and potentially new career, Goodwin recommends that people explore three concepts. “You bring your past with you when you change careers,” she said. “You use it in a new context.”

Writers, for example, may go into online marketing, and dog owners may open a dog-walking business. “People should not assume that if they take a job like dog walker or lawn care it’s a step back. It’s not,” Goodwin said. “You own a business.”

For many career changers, taking the plunge is worth the effort. “It’s really happiness we’re all seeking,” Miller said. “It’s not the biggest title or the biggest paycheck.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Gayle Cinquegrani in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tony Harris in Washington at

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