From Jobs to Roles: Who We are at Work is Changing

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What We Do for WorkIt hasn’t happened yet, but folks are talking about it. Which means that it eventually WILL happen and some will prepared and some won’t. What I’m referring to is, of course, the natural evolution towards role-based careers from the more traditional long-term J-O-B.

Sure go ahead, screech and moan, and when you’re done, take a look around at your friends. Not your parent’s friends but the people you know. Chances are most of them haven’t been at the same job for more than 5 years. People, even intelligent and career-minded folks are doing, what a mere ten years ago would have been labeled “job hopping”. And they’re darn good at it. CareerBuilder’s blog The Work Buzz writes:

The attitude toward changing jobs has shifted. Once upon a time, job hopping was considered a career killer. The conventional wisdom of the day was, “Who wants to hire someone who can’t commit?” If you took a job, you were expected to stay with it for several years and in some cases for the duration of your professional life.

Among the benefits for employees are the obvious: better options,salary bumps, new networks, interesting work, freedom to choose their projects at will. Employers too, see a rise in tactical as well as strategic skills, something employees don’t always get with long-term, tenured work. But the cons may outweigh the pros for employers. In fact, it is estimated that for every departing employee, the cost is upward of 1.5 times the salary they’re leaving behind. An uncounted cost? The burden is on the employees who stay.

Still, even corporate analysts who’ve worked the Talent Acquisition space for some time are seeing the writing on the wall. A 2010 Right Management survey found that 59 percent of North American managers expect higher employee turnover in the next five years, despite their reservations for hiring job-hoppers. And it’s going global. Human resources folks in Asia Pacific are expecting turnover at similar numbers, while Europeans expect higher turnover, but at a lower percentage, just 41%.

One of the most fascinating things about researching “job-hopping” is that the only people who note negative consequences from the practice are employers themselves or paid mouthpieces for them. While even the employees themselves remain surprised that their stints at jobs are so short, many admit that “they wouldn’t be where they are without moving around as much as I did” or “I’ve changed jobs every two years for the last six years and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.” While there are recruiters who wouldn’t touch a leopard resume (get it? spotty?) with a ten foot pole, more and more job-hoppers are getting reputations for finishing the projects or products they came to work on and then moving on, making them invaluable to savvy headhunters, who often sell the expertise rather than the experience, as Bersin puts it.

Roles not Jobs:  Tasks and Projects, not Functions.

What this all means is that in today’s high performing companies, people now take on “roles” not “jobs.” They are responsible for “tasks” and “projects” and not simply “functions.”

And while Silicon Valley is our best example of an innovative, startup-friendly space, cultures and VCs are springing up all over the country, bringing a different mentality to localized workers who were often dependent on one industry or corporation to sustain or even shape career plans. The ability to work from anywhere in the world has added a new dimension to the job search and given employees who have specialized and do understand their global market, the ability to hop from ah…”role to role”.

By Maren Hogan