Company loyalty? Pensions? It’s not your dads’ career.

Being unemployed, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my career; the path I’ve taken, what I’m thinking of doing post-baby, and experiences of friends and family.

My dad stayed with the same company, straight out of college in the 60’s through to retirement in 1999, almost 40 years with the same company.  We moved around the country 4 or 5 times during transfers and promotions or whatever.  I remember having conversations with other kids and we’d commiserate about moving because “dad got transferred”. I don’t remember any moms being transferred.

Today, who does that?  Who stays with the same company for 30+ years?  The last company I worked with gave me some insight.  This is a generation of people that have their pension tied into the company.  Their retirement depended on staying with the company until a certain age or for a certain number of years.  If the company closes, goes bankrupt or gets acquired, they could get screwed. I can’t even wrap my head around staying with the same company for my entire working life.  I’ve heard about the way it was, from my dad, from things I read, but I never really grasped it until I worked at this global company and when an office closed, people scrambled to stay with the company.  They would move anywhere, whatever it took, because they only one, two, three years left before they could retire.  I don’t think I could handle that kind of pressure.  There is no loyalty now for Generation X let alone Y. 

I remember when I left a company I had been with for 7 years, my dad asked why.  I was content, paid well, and as he said, “they have been good to you.”  I had no delusions that if the shit hit the fan for whatever market reason I wouldn’t be immune from being let go.  I’m not irreplaceable, no one is.  I needed a change.  I needed to try something new and challenging, and I’m glad I did.  Sure, the 401k has made a few moves, but that is the extent of my retirement tied up in anything job related.  You can’t rely on it.  I don’t know anyone relying solely on their 401k.  That just seems dangerous.

Brazen Careerist is a home for dozens of career and workplace related blogs and I found this post about how Generation Y will change the workforce;  It’s from May 2008 but it’s still relevant.  It is written by a Gen Y’er and lists 10 ways their generation will change the workforce.  I don’t doubt that they will in some way, every generation does, but I’m not as optimistic as the writer.  They aren’t going to do it now, just as they are getting their feet wet.  They will still need to be company and industry leaders and prove themselves before they can initiate change.  It’s a good short read.  

I just think it is interesting how careers are changing from generation to generation.  I’d love to do a little reading on where it is headed.  Any suggestions?  (If you want to suggest a 300 page business book don’t bother, but thanks for the thought.)


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