How have careers changed in the 21st century?

A job today is much more than a way to earn money.

How have careers changed in the 21st century?


Almost a quarter of workers (24%) are actively planning to change employers in the next few months, as part of a “great resignation” partly prompted by burnout from the pandemic. 

The statistic was revealed in a survey of 6,000 workers by recruitment firm Randstad UK. 

But in many ways, this isn’t a complete surprise. It’s now very normal for people of all ages to progress their careers across several organisations. 

It’s hard to believe that in fairly recent history, workplaces were dominated by people who trained in one occupation before serving the same employer – often for their whole career. Staff worked 9-5, Monday to Friday for up to 30 years, then received a well-earned pension when they retired. That was it.   

Fast forward to the 21st century and a lot has changed. 

Now, professionals want fast growth, and they won't stick around at the same company to find it. Workers take their careers into their own hands, and move around to maximise progression. And in an increasingly competitive jobs market, there’s a whole raft of benefits up for grabs. 

The COVID pandemic rapidly accelerated demand for flexible working – including hybrid and remote options, as people strive for a better work/life balance.  

But that was just the tip of an ‘iceberg’ of workplace demands. Today’s job seekers now have a raft of ‘must haves’ for their roles - including shared values, career progression, and benefits. They’re also striving to fulfil their potential via self-exploration and improvement. 

With that in mind, candidates are likely to favour employers that demonstrate a genuine commitment to diversity, health and wellbeing, and sustainability – particularly in terms of philanthropy, or social impact. But those commitments must be sincere – because any hint of ‘greenwashing’ will damage reputation both inside and outside any organisation.   

All things considered, many staff now view their job as much more than a way to earn money. Work is now a means to be creative, learn new skills, take risks, and make a difference.  

Job searches 

Only a few years ago, we’d all wait to scour the classified section of the paper for jobs.  

As with so many aspects of life, the internet is now king, 24/7. With full internet access, job seekers can view thousands of roles, search and apply all in one place.  

There’s a site for everyone, from Adszuna to ZipRecruiter. Popular sites include Indeed, Monster, Reed, and TotalJobs. Most of these sites enable job seekers to save their CV and cover letters to speed up the application process across multiple roles.  

Social media 

In addition, social media has enabled brands to access a much wider potential talent pool, by sharing their ads online.  

One of the best places to engage, for both employers and job seekers, is LinkedIn. This professional social media platform now has 875+ million users from over 200 countries and regions – all of whom have access to its slick jobs board function.  

With a combination of websites and social channels showcasing career opportunities, all with links to company websites, it’s never been easier for job seekers to see good, bad, and ugly prospective employers. So it’s never been more important for businesses to develop a strong ‘employer brand’, with clear values and messages to tempt people to come on board.   

Why so much change?  


Digitisation is transforming the jobs market. With technology and internet capability advancing at record pace, there are fears that advanced technology such as robotics, artificial intelligence, machine learning and algorithmic decision-making might replace manual labour. 

But technological innovation doesn’t just replace jobs – it also opens up new industries, roles and opportunities for growth. Smart job seekers are keeping an eye out, investing in personal development, and staying ahead of the pack in terms of skills. 

Raring to go? 

This shift to online and digital is one of the reasons why OneFile continues to invest in its online products and services. Our platform helps you and your team to record, track and develop learners’ skills – while standing out as an employer of choice.  

This article includes research and opinion sourced by OneFile at the time of publication. Things may have changed since then,
so this research is to be used at the reader's discretion. OneFile is not liable for any action taken based on this research.