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?

doctor, builder and fireman in a line

Today, 1 in 4 people have been in their job for less than a year. 

This statistic may come as a shock to many, but actually it's pretty normal now. Careers are no longer forged within one company, but across several organisations. Young professionals especially are more ambitious than ever, and will jump from company to company to achieve their career goals.

But it wasn't always this way. To understand how much careers have changed in such a short period of time, let's rewind 50 years.

It's the 60s. Most people in work are men. They train in one occupation and do the same job for their whole career, often in the same company. They work 9-5, Monday to Friday for 30 years, and receive a well-earned pension when they retire. And that's it. The average worker goes to the same bleak office every day to earn money and support their family in any way they can.

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

Workplaces are more than cubicles filled with testosterone and stale cigarette smoke. There are women, flexible working hours, the internet, office dogs, ball pools – and a move from lifelong jobs to shifting career paths.

A job today is much more than a way to earn money, it's a way for individuals to be creative, learn new skills, take risks and make a difference. This emphasis on self-exploration and improvement has meant young professionals are always looking to be bigger and better. They want fast growth, and they won't stick around at the same company to find it. Today, professionals take their career into their own hands, figure out their own story, and move around to forge the right career path for them.

But why has this change happened?


The digital world has made a big difference to the job market. Technology is advancing at record levels, so new industries, jobs and skills are opening up every day. We don’t just need a local butcher, baker and candlestick-maker any more, there's a whole world of opportunities out there – you just have to learn new skills to keep up!

Job searches

It's now easier than ever to find a new job. Instead of flicking through the classifieds every month, you can go online and apply for jobs in just a few clicks. Today is all about convenience, so it's no wonder the internet has had a big impact on the job market.

Social media

Social media has played a part too. Young people are used to seeing peers and celebrities living the high-life, and they want to live up to their ambitious standards! Social media pressure has been linked to low self-esteem and depression, but it's also a driving force behind self-improvement, capitalism and career progression. Whether that's a good thing or not it is up to you.

Continuing professional development (CPD)

CPD is more than just an industry buzzword, it's a constant pressure felt by young professionals across the country. Thanks to fierce social pressure, rising inflation and internal drive, people are always looking to develop their skills and get a promotion. CPD is a practical way to channel this ambition and level up to the next stage in your career.

Raring to go?

Take the next step in your career with OneFile's free CPD platform – the perfect place to record, track and grow your skills.

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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.