• 11/29/2023 7:45:58 AM

Towards a Winding Path: New Approaches to Career

In today's competitive business world, the workforce is becoming increasingly insecure. The current global economy and rapid technological advancements demand constant restructuring of corporate structures and production processes, causing uncertainty across all sectors. While classic education systems struggle to meet the rapidly changing needs of the business world, finding employees with the diverse and flexible skills demanded by the labor market is becoming increasingly difficult for employers. Although unemployment rates continue to soar globally, numerous job openings remain vacant for specialized positions. In such an ambiguous landscape, classical career approaches have begun to lose their validity, and new career approaches have been developed to adapt to the rapidly changing nature of the business world.

“Even salaried employees will become individual entrepreneurs, managing their careers as managing a small business,” Pierre Levy said in World Philosophie (2000). He stated this from a critical perspective. "They will prepare themselves for innovation. The individual himself will become a business..."

Today, few professions promise lifelong employment. Employment security issues, once predominantly faced by blue-collar workers, are now a concern for white-collar workers. Instead of working for a single organization throughout their lives and climbing the career ladder, employees are now changing organizations multiple times throughout their lives. In traditional career approaches, a career change meant just switching organizations or positions. Today, it can also include changing industries, professions, or work styles.

As in all areas of life, the impact of globalization on the labor market and increasing workforce mobility forces employees to compete not only with workers in their own countries but with workers worldwide. In such an atmosphere, the classic understanding of career and career planning is also transforming.

The word 'career,' borrowed into English from French, originated from the Latin word "carrus," meaning a wheeled vehicle. Over time, it began to indicate the sense of "path" or "track". Recently, it has evolved to denote an individual's journey and progress in their work life. Thus, "career" has become a term that expresses an individual's journey in their work life and the successes achieved on this journey.

Traditionally, the perception of a career was a long path where individuals worked for the same employer for a long time, climbing the ranks within the same workplace or occupational field. This path was generally monotonous, progressing upwards through titles within a precise hierarchy. According to this understanding, one of the most significant measures of success was to be promoted to a higher position and to have a higher salary. Having a secure and stable job was one of the fundamental elements of the traditional career concept. In this employer-centered approach, the goals of individuals were secondary to the company's needs.

With the shift towards information societies, the traditional concept of a career has been abandoned and replaced by new approaches. The more transitional and flexible nature of careers has necessitated a new perspective on what success means. What was once a simple and one-dimensional concept has, over time, become multifaceted.

In new career approaches, individuals no longer rely on organizational promotions and internal career paths and, instead of adopting a limited career path, transition between different job roles, institutions, or professions, and even distinct forms of employment. In this new approach, the individual, once in a secondary position, has now become primary, and the driving force that motivates the individual is his own needs, values, and desire for psychological success.

In the modern understanding of career, flexibility is at the forefront. Individuals can gain experience in various jobs and sectors and make changes in their careers more frequently. A career is now characterized not only by upward progression but also by horizontal transitions and the development of various skill sets. Personal satisfaction and making the most of one's potential has become essential. Instead of job security, career assurance through continuous learning and skill development has come to the forefront.

Flexibility, versatility, and continuous learning in the modern approach have taken over the stability and hierarchical progression of the traditional career concept. The new career concept focuses more on the individual's choices, skill development, and personal fulfillment.

Deloitte's 2023 Generation Z and Millennial Survey

Looking at the data from Deloitte's 2023 Generation Z and Millennial Survey helps us understand the changing nature of today's business world and career concepts.

The survey, encompassing the views of 14,483 individuals from Generation Z and 8,373 from the Millennial generation across 44 countries, shows that high living costs, unemployment, and climate change rank among the top concerns for these younger generations. These statistics reflect how global economic pressures have intensified uncertainties in the labor market and impacted traditional business models.

A substantial portion of the Gen Z and Millennial generations indicate that their job is central to their identities, yet they notably try to achieve a proper work-life balance. Achieving this balance has become one of the fundamental criteria in their choice of new employers. High levels of job-related stress and burnout are also apparent, stemming from increased workloads and inadequate work-life balance, underscoring the need to move away from traditional career pathways.

Gen Z and Millennials are increasingly shaping their work and career choices based on personal values. Subjects like environmental sustainability and social justice have become significant issues for these generations. This trend shows that individuals seek jobs that align not just with financial or status-driven career goals but also with societal impact and personal values. Survey results reveal a preference for remote and hybrid working models among Gen Z and Millennials. However, some employers' calls to return to the office may conflict with these generations' demands for flexibility, posing a risk for companies in retaining talent.

Additionally, the "always-on" work culture brought about by remote working can lead to employees being constantly engaged with work, disrupting the work-life balance. This issue negatively impacts stress levels and strengthens the search for alternatives to traditional work arrangements. The new generations are showing an increasing demand for more flexible working hours and part-time job opportunities. This trend reflects a labor market that seeks more flexibility compared to traditional full-time, fixed-hour jobs, allowing individuals to shape their career paths according to their lifestyles and personal values.

In today's world, dominated by variability and flexibility, it's clear that a career has become much more than just a source of work and income. Nowadays, careers are intertwined with personal identity, lifestyle, and values. This changing approach, significantly adopted by Gen Z and Millennials, continues to transform the business world and educational systems.

Nowadays, a career indicates an individual's journey of self-expression, learning, and development. Instead of job security, the focus has shifted to finding work that is satisfying, educational, and aligned with personal values. This shift allows employees to steer their careers in a more flexible and compatible manner, making a career not just a means to earn income but a part of the individual's self-actualization process.

While new career approaches offer opportunities, they also carry significant risks for individuals' life security under competitive economic conditions. The increasing focus on competition in the workplace has led to a decline in social solidarity, resulting in a more individualistic and success-oriented society. For the younger generations, especially, staying afloat in competitive conditions is increasingly becoming a source of stress.