3 Career Shifts in this Economy that Could Leave you Behind

The way you look for and progress in a job changed dramatically in 2008 (there was a recession if you weren’t aware). Jobs became scarce, 401(k) matches were eliminated, property values plummeted and widespread panic ensued.

These drastic changes altered the market and your career, and you need to be in front of the change before you’re left behind.

Career Shifts in this Economy image

A College Degree is NOT all you need anymore

This is becoming a slow realization to many people who can’t find a steady job. A few decades ago, a college degree was a surefire way to land a great job. Throw in a prestigious school on the plaque and you could eventually be CEO.

Unfortunately, that trend slowly became obsolete climaxing with the Recession. Suddenly, more and more people put off the pains of the job hunt to get more education in hopes that landing a Masters will land them a better job.

College graduates still fare better economically, but it doesn’t mean it’s the golden ticket to a job you want. The rate of new applicants in the workforce with a college degree grows at 4% annually.

Thus, you need something unique to stand out. YOU!

Find an area in your market where you can stand out. Defy the stereotype. Discover new skills and achievements outside the classroom that show you are an A-player.

Being an accountant, employers were impressed that I also wrote a blog, made videos, started up a podcast & more. I turned the stereotypical accountant perception on its head to stand out in my field. It led to a couple job offers just from that and what I’ve learned from it.

Old Generation vs. Young Generation

There’s a clash going on between the old and young. Older workers, due to the recession and longer life expectancy, are staying in their jobs longer. This, according to Reid Hoffman, is clogging up the “escalator” for moving up the corporate ladder.

Younger people are stuck at the bottom of the chain in lower-paying positions. This resulted in one thing, more young people are job-hopping around like rabbits.

Older workers pride themselves on being loyal to their company for decades. That same loyalty isn’t found with the younger generation as they constantly are looking for new challenges and more opportunities.

I’m not a big fan of job-hopping, but if you spend too long not being challenged, there’s no reason you shouldn’t move on to greener pastures.

Forget what your parents and older workers will think of you, go find something that will hone your talent and challenge you and allow you room to fail. Failure is the key to building a growth mindset as well as gaining the mindset of an entrepreneur.


The worst trend from the 2008 fallout: Settling. I’ve heard it so many times I get nauseous, “Just be happy you have a job.” I’m grateful for having my job, but that’s not the same.

The problem is you don’t hear the employee say this, usually you hear their family and friends say it. The employee hates his work, the commute, Smelly Joe in the cubicle next to him, but instead of supporting him/her to find something new, they repeat that terrible phrase.

Settling doesn’t mean happiness, it means you’ve reached a place in your life/career where you feel that there’s not much more to strive for so you stop reaching.

In a way settling = quitting.

“I guess I’m okay at my job, the economy’s bad so I’ll just hang out here for a couple more years.”

People tell themselves this for YEARS. You only get a select few years in this life and you’re fine throwing some away!

Recently, my wife Sam and I were stuck in a rut in Charlotte, NC. We had foolishly rented a condo that was above our price point, we didn’t love the city as we did in college, and we hated our jobs. We decided to find our next adventure and packed and moved to a bigger city, Dallas, TX. It took many months of work and stress, but we weren’t going to settle, we didn’t complain, we changed.

The company I left was a very old-fashioned company meaning heads-down cubicle work, bureaucracy galore, and tons of employees that have been there for decades (doing similar work as myself, a recent college grad).

While I was saying goodbye, many kept saying to me “You’re lucky you’re getting out of here.” Who was saying this? The people who had been at the company for decades! I want to scream at them, “Stop sealing your fate at this company, change something!” They’ll continue to putter through getting mediocre salaries and crumb-size raises because they settled.

The career landscape is changing as we speak. Change your mindset from being a heads-down “employee” and start thinking as a career “entrepreneur.” Take control of your career.

Have you seen these shifts in the job environment? What are your thoughts on people settling and not pursuing their passions?

Picture by FreeDigitalPhotos.

About the Author

By , on Feb 28, 2013
Joe Cassandra, a personal brand equity strategist, is the Founder of the 7Minute Entrepreneur, where he shows you how to change your mindset and personal brand today from passive “employee” to thriving “entrepreneur” in your early career. You can follow him on Twitter.

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  1. I definitely don’t feel like I’ve settled, I’m using my current job as a spring board to greater things. I completely agree with you, the job market is changing, so staying active and engaged is the only way to survive!

  2. Kelly says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I’ve heard that same phrase more times than I can count and it really does come down to settling. If you aren’t happy in the current position than do something about it. You don’t have to quit to find something new, you can work on searching for a different job while you continue in the current one, but moving forward is the only way to be successful AND happy.

  3. If people in younger generations are settling or job hopping because they don’t find their current position challenging enough, I believe that situation is the individuals fault. If you are not being honest and aggressive enough to confront your boss and either ask for more responsibilities, you are only damaging yourself. Your work needs to know that you care and you want to be challenged, if you come off as apathetic or just disappear when things get boring nothing is ever going to change.

    • I partially agree with you Morgan. Yes, if you aren’t being challenged stop whining and go find a challenge in your workplace you can solve.

      On the other side of the coin, some of the “old-school” companies don’t like this time of entrepreneurial spirit. They give you the tasks they want done and that’s all they want. ANyone who says different is “rocking the boat”. I know b/c I was in that situation, I would tell my boss “Give me more, let me try different things. and he would nod and say ‘I agree.’ And this happend multiple times but nothing changed.

      I even gave specific examples on what I can do, and they said they didn’t want it, even though it would have made THEIR job easier! It’s because it was abnormal for someone in that company to do that, that’s what I believe.

  4. KC @ genxfinance says:

    This is the problem with society. They think that it’s all about education. But hey, soemitmes, there are more skilled, innovative, and talented persons out there but unfortunately, they can’t afford to go to some fancy university. What they need is a chance.

    • Education is important, but what’s better? INVESTING in YOURSELF.

      This is how you will stand out from the pack. Find ways to better your skills and soft assets, learn skills outside your profession. Learn to market yourself etc.

  5. Laurie says:

    Lots of good points here, Joe. We’re with Marvin about college. If they are drawn to a specific field that requires college, we’ll gladly support them, but we’re not pushing it. Instead, we’re teaching them entrepeneurial skills that will help them make their own way.

    • Great idea Laurie, I’ll do the same as well.

      It’s sad, we tell kids growing up “Do whatever you want with your life”, then they get to College and it’s “Just get whatever job you can and be happy with that.”

      What happens in that 10 year span from Elementary school to College?

  6. Alex says:

    I think job hopping is getting more and more acceptable, so long as you have an explanation to back it up or it demonstrates career progress.

  7. I’m not sure the “young, job hopping” makes as bad of an impression as it once did. I’ve known many employers that thought multiple experiences brought business wisdom and flexibility. However, I doubt that this is the case for every company out there.

    • It’s definitely becoming a norm as young ppl are wanting more money NOW, not in 30 years. They also want to be challenged not be a robot.

      Maybe it’s because we (I’m in the Gen Y group :D) are arrogant, but why can’t it be that we want more from our work. Especially since you spend 25%+ of your life just going to work.

  8. I highly doubt my wife and I will even send our daughter to college. Obviously if she wants to go we will not stop her but I will definitely let her know we view it as a waste of time. Personally if I were a highschool senior I would look to get an associates degree then pursue work in another country where my skills were in high demand.

    • I wouldn’t say College is a waste of time, yes I’ve learned most of what I know OUT of school then in school, but that piece of paper is worth something EXCEPT:

      1) You start a company
      2) You know people that will give a position regardless of education (“it’s who you know”)

      With the rise of online education via blogs, webinars, classes (that are free), you can take your learning into your own hands, but some professions you do need those certifications (as I’m an accountant and would need my CPA to start a Practice)

  9. Jose says:

    I’m part of the older generation and will tell you this, I have job hopped without any qualms when my market worth exceeded what the company I was working for at the time was willing to pay me. I suggest that if you are with an employer for at least two years and the market rate for what you do has grown significantly, ask for an adjustment. The last three companies I have worked for would do and still do market salary adjustments for employees they value, they just wont advertise the fact that they do. I’d be more than willing to retire and make room for younger folks, just lower the retirement age to mid fifties and I’ll be gone in a few years. Better yet, get Social Security to give me back what I and my employers have put into the system and I’ll retire tomorrow!

    • Well they just raised SS back up to 6% so maybe it’ll happen Jose :D.

      If you believe your value exceeds what you make, negotiate with your bosses to show that value and if it’s a no, then you should move on.

      Adjustment is a great word to use in negotiation instead of “raise”

  10. Good post. It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut and just accept your fate with your current job. One thing the recession taught me is that employers aren’t going to be loyal to you if they think laying you off will improve their situation, so you shouldn’t be loyal to an employer if you have an opportunity to improve yours.

    • Your right Jay, employers are looking at 1 thing…bottom line, especially huge corporations. One HUGE reason I moved to a small firm, bc you matter even more. When that happens, the opportunities are much higher than a cookie-cutter corporation full of bureaucratic levels of unproductiveness.


  11. Interesting post. For sometime now, I have believed that the generatio of people who are now under thirty are (or should strive to become) what I call ‘work nomads’ – any traditional notions of employment for life, retirement and career ought to be left behind and the realisation that there is work to be done and income is a result of a number of activities embraced.

    Many young people do it anyway. The generation that is short-handed is mine (I am just fifty) because our jobs are going and we have a bit of a problem adapting to ‘work nomadism’. At least some do :).

    • Hey Maria, thanks for your input. Not too sure what you mean by “work nomad” but the old way the workplace is seems to be going by the wayside and some companies aren’t realizing that.

      I’m sure you can adapt at a young 50 Maria! 🙂

  12. I have noticed a lot of my peers are ok with “settling”. We let the news get to us too much. Just because unemployment is high, doesn’t mean there isn’t a good job for YOU. I’ve learned that if you have passion and you show it, that puts you ahead of most other applicants. If you believe in yourself and take risks you can definitely improve your situation.

    • Exactly Nick, everyone listens to the news and then makes assumptions based off it. Forget the news, forget unemployment those are general stats, think about the 1 stat that matters…YOU!

      If you show the passion for their product/service, it’s worth much more than the perfect background (just heard that from Guy Kawasaki), thanks Nick!

  13. Sarah says:

    I’ve definitely “settled” into a job I’m not crazy about. It’s depressing and I’m constantly looking for new opportunities, but there are very few that I’m qualified for or interested in pursuing. (My degree is in music education, and I graduated from college in 2008. Enough said.)

    That said, I’ve never been unemployed. I’ve always had something to do – whether it was subbing, working dead-end retail/office jobs, teaching privately, or playing occasional gigs.

    I guess my point is that both settling and job-hopping are better than having no job at all. They’re both ways of staying afloat, which is particularly important if you have debt. The hope is to eventually find something you enjoy and find worthwhile, but it’s not going to happen overnight.

    • Hey Sarah, true job hopping isn’t the best thing to do. In your situation it becomes more about “who you know” to get into the ground floor of what you want to do as perfects your resume may not reflect your complete background.

      One trick I use is what I call the “Transfer Principle” that I just used for this job I had where I didn’t have certain experience they desperately wanted. Hopefully Andy won’t mind but I’ll post the link to the article I wrote:


      Hope that helps Sarah, feel free to email me to chat more if you like 😀

  14. To me “I’m just happy to have a job” isn’t necessarily settling. It’s a landing in between stages where you can step back and breathe for a little bit before attempting the next set of stairs.

    Personally, I’ve spent way too much time unemployed to ever leave a job again without a new one already in hand.

    • Hey Edward, if your looking at the next set of stairs than you haven’t settled. Those who think “I’m just happy to have a job” go through the same unhappy routine and don’t try anything to get out.

      I definitely think for financial and sanity sake you shouldn’t quit your job before having another. Sam and I almost did that when we moved to Texas bc it was hard enough to get an interview out of state, much less a job. But I set the goal mentally to obsession that we would get out of there before the end of 2012 and it did.

      I had opportunities for jobs I would’ve hated and ppl told me “Just be happy someone’s interested.” Maybe I’m dumb, but I wanted a fresh start to work, I didn’t want another “trapped all day by myself in a cubicle job” but somewhere where I can make an impact. And I did. Not trying to toot my horn, but to just give an example from my personal life that could help.

      Thanks Edward!

  15. krantcents says:

    I think you always needed to stand out! When there were plenty of job openings, it was pretty competitive to get a good job. When I was in industry, I always looked for the performers when I wanted to fill an opening. A college degree in itself is never enough! You have to do something in college just like you did in high school to get into college. My students who get into good college have more than just good grades, they participated in a variety of extracurricular activities.

    • Great KC! You’re right, it’s competitive out there and you need to find a way to “defy the stereotype”. Just saying “I work hard at work” doesn’t mean you standout, you got to actively seek out ways to brand yourself and make yourself unique in and out of work to get the best opportunities.

  16. AverageJoe says:

    Isn’t it sad how people get stuck in a run and don’t move? I think many people forget how brutish and short life really is. Don’t settle, people! Your life is worth WAY too much….

    • Yeah from one Joe to another! Settling doesn’t mean you can’t be a position forever, it means you get to a point where you become a robot and you’re learning nothing new etc. There’s always something new or someone new to meet, don’t settle like you say Joe.


  17. Job hopping can be beneficial but it can also be detrimental if you do it too often. There is definitely a shift between older and younger workers and their values in the workplace. Settling can be bad, but so can leaving a good thing for something that you may not even be happy in.

    • Hey Tushar,

      I’m definitely not promoting job-hopping, I promote finding what you would love to do and don’t be afraid of finding it. Get into a culture where you feel if you aren’t challenged anymore you can go to your boss and say that and get more responsibility.

      Corporate america is far away from that which is why I went from a gigantor company to a very small firm where I can always be challenged.

      I’m curious to see how the young and old battle works out…

  18. I settled for a little while in a much more extended post-doc than I would have liked. The reality is that there were simply no jobs available for me. But I kept on pushing until I finally moved out of a training position and into a real job.

    • Great work! It’s tough to always find something, but that’s why you dig your well before you’re thirsty (as the saying goes)…but the point is you found yourself in a position you felt held you back and you broke out.


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