How to Manage Your Career for the Next Decade—Three Career Trends to Watch in 2020 and Beyond

Feb 13, 2020

I have been watching careers as a consultant, recruiter and career coach for just over 20 years now. The first 10 years, I focused on big changes in entry-level recruiting, specifically the decrease in organized campus recruiting for a more diffuse hiring process that required new entrants to the workforce to be proactive about managing their careers from day one. The second 10 years, those changes moved up into experienced recruiting, and the 24/7 job search became a harsh reality for every professional.

Today’s professionals still need to be proactive and manage their careers 24/7, but also need to manage for different careers altogether. Here are three career trends to watch in the next decade:


Everyone is an entrepreneur

Freelancing is on the rise – 1 in 3 Americans freelanced at some point in 2018, and 28% of freelancers are full-time compared to 17% in 2014. This is a career trend that is hard to undo, since employers benefit from getting the specific resources they need when they need them (and save on the increasing expensive benefits costs of traditional employees). Freelancers also report being happier than traditional workers.

The fix? Even if you stay in traditional employment, you will compete with freelancers. The most hirable professionals will manage their career (and job search) like the freelancing entrepreneurs. You have to sell yourself harder – you will need more than a resume to get hired. You have to be more targeted with your networking. Like a business, you will benefit from publicity and will need to build a brand


Reskilling is the must-have skill

AI, robotics and Big Data are some of today’s big disrupters, but there will be other disruptive innovations that add brand-new jobs and make other jobs obsolete. It is not a matter of if your job will change, but when. Today’s professional needs to know how to proactively change careers, not just search for a job in the same career –your original career choice may cease to exist or be unrecognizable.

The fix? Sure, you can research what the hottest jobs are right now, but those jobs will invariably change, and the requirements for individual jobs continually change. Rather than focus on what skills you need right now, make it a habit to continually reskill over time. Build a professional development plan, and budget it into your regular calendar. If it’s been a while since you have learned something new, start with something you enjoy even outside your career – learning how to learn, being comfortable as a student/ beginner again and building a love for learning are all helpful skills to have.


The new retirement age is never

People live into their 70’s on average, but peak earning years are your 50’s and 40’s (pay growth for college-educated women peaks at 40!). You need to be a good money manager to bank those earnings and stretch them as inflation increases and your average salary decreases over 20-30 years. Sixty-seven percent of seniors would prefer to not be working or to work fewer hours. One upside to working longer is that you could choose to move into a new career you enjoy.

The fix? Manage your money as closely and proactively as you manage your career. Manage your career for the ebb and flow of peak earning times and periods of unemployment and underemployment. Pursuing FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) is one way withstand career volatility. Reskilling and embracing an entrepreneurial approach (as noted above) will also help with career longevity. Since you need to focus on longevity, you also need to guard against burnout and keep yourself engaged and excited about your work. Finding success stories, like this 104 year old artist who sold her first painting at age 81, can help.


You have choices for where to take your career

It might sound scary to think about working longer, but it also means you have the time to build a career you love. It could be a lot of work to reskill, but it is also an opportunity to learn different things. It takes a different approach to manage your career like an entrepreneur, rather than an employee but it puts you in control.

Today’s professional has choices. Does that make you feel overwhelmed or excited? Are these trends an obstacle course to endure or an adventure to begin? How will you choose to approach this new decade?


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