The world of work is changing. Here's how to deal with it well.

traditional career cartoonThis is a guest post by Donna Sweidan. If you’d also like to guest post here on JobMob, follow these guest post guidelines.

Job seekers- you just got a promotion, the “career” as we know it is dead.

Welcome to the new world of work.

7 Trends that have changed the world of work and how to adapt

1. Out: The Traditional Career, In: The Short-term/Multiple Careers/Multiple income stream Model

The career as we know it is dead.

Just like you’ve heard many times over the last few years, “this is not your parents’ job search”, it probably obvious that you shouldn’t expect that 40-year retirement watch either. We no longer live in a world of the “lifetime career” and nor can one job serve as a reliable source of income.

The writing has been on the wall for a long time. In 1994 William Bridges wrote Job Shift, How To Prosper In A Workplace Without Jobs; In 2001, Daniel Pink followed with Free Agent Nation and in 2007 Marci Alboher acknowledged one of the most important trends to arise in the world of work in her book One Person/Multiple Careers.

Take away: Marci Alboher encourages the concept of the Slash career such as the lawyer/chef, surgeon/writer or writer/teacher. How many different skills, interests or roles can you leverage to create different careers and income sources? Whether they are complimentary or not, when one falls away, which may be out of choice or not, you will have ongoing sources of income. Penelope Trunk, a leading thinker on career trends writes about embracing the braided career.

The sooner professionals acknowledge that work today is a far more fluid concept and comes in different forms (contract, full-time, part-time, consulting/entrepreneur) one will be able to transition far more easily from one to the next.

2. Out: Full-time Permanent Jobs, In: Contract/Part-time/Consulting Work

Peter Weddle, an HR executive and self-proclaimed career activist recently wrote that what is on most peoples’ minds is “an honest-to-goodness, full time permanent job,”….. “but what has changed is that the definition of an honest-to-goodness full-time permanent job now looks uncomfortably like an honest-to-goodness full-time here-today-gone-tomorrow job.”

The new reality that is hard for most people to digest is that every job is temporary and we live in a Freelance economy. The tenure of your next position is probably going to allow you just enough time to get to know your colleagues before you move on.

Take away: Learn how to manage a professional life that will take you in and out different roles. Some may be full-time, some may be contract. Call yourself a consultant, and actively seek out contract work, because maybe that is what your ideal employers are happier creating right now.

In Jobshift, William Bridges called for professionals to stop thinking with an “employee” mentality and rather like a free-agent, and be “vendor-minded”. If you follow this advice, you’ll get into vendor/ consultant/ business creator mode.

Instead of shooting your resume out to every job online, reverse your strategy. Create a plan to market your skills, and think B2B & B2C.

Bridges reminded us back then and it’s as important today, “Everything is a Market.” With the dramatic shifts in the economy and workplace today, companies as well as individuals are your clients or customers.

Where to find this short-term, contract work? Look no further than trend #3.

3. Out: Job Boards as the only source of work, In: Websites to market your skills to a broad clientele

Did you notice is one of the sponsors of this blogging competition? If you thought that they were just waiting for the next graphic artist or writer to click on their link, think again. They’re waiting for you.

Welcome to the new Freelance economy.

According to their website, helps professionals in “software, writing, data entry and design right through to engineering and the sciences, sales and marketing, and accounting & legal services.” As the boss of your career, your job is to establish a broad & diverse pipeline of work.

Take away: Whether you want to call yourself the “Boss” of You, Inc., a “freelancer” or if you prefer, a consultant, no matter what skill set you have, check out these sites to see if they serve professionals like yourself.

Introducing the new “Job Board”: Welcome,,,, as they join old timers Elance and other freelance marketplaces. A new phenomenon are micro freelance marketplaces like Fiverr: The place for people to share things they're willing to do for $5.

Yes, I know this sucks, and the rates for freelance work in the beginning can be low, but before you roll your eyes at the idea, hear me out. Don’t you want to build your clientele? While you may not get paid the rate you want, (or need to pay the bills) clients are getting to know your work, and will pay you more the second time around. You are building your portfolio of work, and you are building up your confidence to ask for more the next time you prospect a consulting opportunity.

What do you have to lose? This way, you can build up testimonials and people who can refer you your next clients!

4. Out: Reliant on stable skill set, In: Constant Retooling

The rapid changes in technology require that every professional needs to be staying on top of these advances. Social media is a prime example.

Once the territory of only the most media savvy, social media is quickly becoming (if not already) a critical skill set in careers that would have never needed them before. No one, not college grads, nor baby boomers can afford to sit back and think they are immune to the constant upgrading of skills.

Richard Bowles noted in his book, The Three boxes of life and how to get out of them that the traditional model of learning, working and leisure as three separate stages in our lives no longer applies. He proposed that people should consider learning, working and leisure all as lifelong endeavors.

His vision is proving true. Many baby boomers can no longer afford to retire and enjoy “the leisure” promised in our old way of life.

Take away: Knowledge is power. Invest in yourself because you can’t afford to stop learning.

Do what you can to keep up to date with your industry or new career interests. You can learn (almost) anything through “Google University”, from free classes via MIT or YouTube, you can find a podcast or free webinars on just about anything and you can hear tales from the trenches by the experts you want to emulate.

Adding to your skill set on a regular basis not only will keep you relevant; it just might keep you employed.

5. Out: Company manages your career, In: You are the Boss and CMO of your career

Just a generation ago, our parents and grandparents spent their entire professional life working for “The Man”. We learned that getting a job with a stable company was the reliable thing to do, and the corporation would “take care of you.”

In the new economy, you have been promoted, whether you like it or not, to be the boss of you. And in order to do this job well you better be a good business manager, because that’s what you are now.

Take away: Since you are going to have to be on the constant look out for work, every 2-3 years, you have no choice but to create a Sales and Marketing Department in your home office and become the Chief Marketing Officer of You Inc. If you don’t, who will?

What you may not realize is that your marketing budget will cost you $0. With social media tools at everyone’s fingertips, you have access to the launch pad you’ll need to maintain the visibility and credibility to stay top of mind amongst hiring managers and recruiters.

6. Out: Desktop Rolodex, In: Online social networks

Your Rolodex has always been the most important item in your job search and career arsenal. Is yours sitting frayed and out of date on your desk or is it updated daily via LinkedIn?

A strong network is more than ever, the ultimate career (read: business) insurance and your Rolodex is now on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Maybe you have more connections on Facebook than LinkedIn, (and I’m not just talking about college students and recent graduates) but do you recognize that this network is the key to your next job or new career?

Take away: Reconsider your attitude and approach to social networking sites. Referral is the most successful job search and business building strategy.

Ignore social networking at your own peril.

7. Out: Stability & Security, In: Instability

I remember the day when many of my career-exploring clients would pick security as the most important determining factor in their choice.

That option does not exist anymore.

Such a trend is hard to comprehend in terms of what it means for our own lives. In helping her twenty-something audience get used to this trend, Penelope Trunk noted that one has to learn to “create stability through transition.” She encouraged her readers to “become a master of transition… You need to stop thinking that the transitions are going to end as soon as you grow up. Security isn’t what you think, not any more. Keeping your head down, following the rules, putting in your time; today that behavior doesn’t come with guarantees.”

Takeaway: Learn to become a master of transitions and you will survive.

About the Author

donna sweidan portraitDonna Sweidan is the Chief Career Inspiration Officer and founder of Careerfolk, LLC. She guides and inspires professionals (from aspiring to successful executives) specializing in helping people get “unstuck” helping people go from soul search to Social search, two essential parts of career management today. Follow Donna @careerfolk. Like us on or

This article is part of the Over $5000 in Prizes: The 5th Annual JobMob Guest Blogging Contest, which was made possible thanks in large part to our sponsors:

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This Post Has 24 Comments

  1. Lynn

    In McKinsey’s most recent job’s report 58% of employers polled said that they would be hiring more temporary workers in the future. It’s the era of Giganomics

  2. Alex Freund

    Donna, this is an incredibly valuable article. Thanks for making it available

  3. Susan Werbin

    Great article, well said and written.
    While one always needed to be creating one’s next job, now you need to have many “balls in the air” in continuous creation and performance.

  4. Jessica

    Donna – great tips! The job world is constantly changing, so hopefully we’ll see more and more people adapt to these changes!

  5. Another good read published in 1984 that foretold of this career landscape is The Way of the Ronin by Beverly Potter, PhD.

  6. Donna Sweidan

    Thank you everyone for your comments and positive and feedback. I am particularly passionate about this topic because I do feel that if people don’t embrace it, they are not going to get back to work very quickly. It’s very troubling to see people stuck in that “the only thing that will help is a full-time job”mentality. I appreciate you sharing it with more people. Lynn, @hourly, those Mckinsey stats are especially telling.

  7. Mike Pascale

    Thank you for the excellent article, Donna! I strongly agree, even if I don’t approve (lol). One must adapt or die as the Natural Law suggests. You hit all seven nails on their respective heads.

    Few minor things: The main problem with freelance (from one who’s been doing it “full-time” for a decade) is that the competition is global for anything that can be done off-site. So those of us in North America and the UK are competing against those where three bucks an hour is a sufficient, livable wage.

    Too many clients think cheap is good and are willing to sacrifice quality for quantity. It’s up to us to educate them and show that experience, ability and native English (for writers) is paramount to their success.

    (Almost makes me wish I’d become a barber or dentist. Still can’t do those from afar.)

    There are, of course, pockets of security: e.g., the armed forces and politicians. No one ever laid off a senator or soldier! 🙂

    Lastly, I hope *editing* still counts, along with professional grammar and spelling. Your editor should fix the title of the article and get rid of the redundant “About”! lol

    “Seven Life-Changing Job Trends You Need To Know” says it all. And so did you. Thanks again!

  8. Susan Zlotnick

    While what you say may be true, it is particularly troubling to me. What I read into it is a lot of businesses not wanting to pay unemployment taxes and payroll taxes by hiring their “employees” as contractors and you are helping them by saying it is OK. This is the new way of doing business.

    It is time that businesses starts thinking about the world around them again and not just their bottom line or we are all going to be in a lot of trouble down the road when the next resession hits and all of your “consultants” who have not paid into the unemployment system are unemployed again.

  9. Rose Macom

    Thank you Donna. It’s a very timely article with important trends to be aware of even if we don’t like some of them!

  10. Naomi Berman


    Everything you write about is 100% accurate. I see the job market changing so much faster today than it did ten years ago. Job Seekers now need to be speed demons and so vigilant about staying on top of things. Your article is the way of the future….everyone should follow your advice!

  11. Pam McHugh


    Great job! This is a superb sumation of the work world as we know it today. For those who grew up with different expectations of the work experience, it is difficult for them to wrap their arms around this new reality; leaving them to grieve for the old “state.” Additional works by William Bridges on life transitions offer more insight. Well done!

  12. Sandra

    This is spot on! Thanks for not only sharing the analysis of the trends but for giving practical, usable links as well. I look forward to reading some of these books and I’m going to send this to several people. One attribute to underscore within most of the points you make is that what’s also out is to define yourself by your job (field or title.) You are not any of the jobs you do. For some that can be a hard lesson but it’s one worth taking to heart.

  13. Ilana

    Bravo Donna! You hit many nails on the head and articulated them beautifully. Every one of your points can be helpful to the job seeker, career changer and counselor that is helping them. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  14. Laura

    Hi Donna, thanks for this article, how ever scary to traditionalists like me, one can’t fight change.
    To Mike P, sorry, you’re half right, solders can get laid off. It’s called a RIF, reduction in force.

  15. Paola

    Dear Donna:
    very interesting article. Right on. Very good links as well. That is really useful. Thank you very much and congratulations,

  16. Lauren

    Really well-done and spot-on. I remember saying the American economy would switch to a freelance model back in 2009. I was laid off in the middle of that year and have been successful at freelancing for multiple clients since then. You do have to flexible and adaptable, do more than one thing and promote yourself.

  17. Renee Delatizky

    Useful, direct and practical advice. Worth sharing with others.

  18. Paola Torres

    i need a grate bilingual teacher resume

  19. Pingback: Top 10 HR Blog Posts of 2011 | Human Resources Software

  20. Kate

    These are all life-changing, it’s true. Change is both rewarding and stressful, good and bad.

  21. Hadass Segal

    Excellent and helpful advice, DONNA.

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