Preparing for Multiple Careers

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Preparing for Multiple Careers

Futurists have been predicting that individuals will have many careers as well as jobs across the lifespan. These predictions have acquired the aura of truth as they are repeated in the literature of career development, training, and human resource development. Evidence for the existence of multiple careers is limited (Mallon 1999), but small-scale studies of the phenomenon and trend analysis suggest that individuals may need to plan and prepare for different work roles, responsibilities, and opportunities throughout life. This Brief looks at some of the evidence and new models and theories of careers. It identifies the career management skills needed to make transitions across career fields.

Who Has Multiple Careers?

The impetus to move to a related or radically different career field may be voluntary or involuntary; factors include difficulty finding relevant work, dissatisfaction with the initial career choice, job loss, or the desire to use other skills or interests, to express emerging or submerged identities, or to change one's lifestyle (Nicholson 2000). Evidence of the extent of multiple career changes is difficult to find. The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides data on median number of years with an employer but not on changes of career fields. Teixeira and Gomes (2000) state that "studies in the United States at the end of the seventies already showed that between 10 and 30 percent of the economically active population had experienced at least one career change in a 5-year period" (p. 78). Of 91 skilled young adults in Germany, only one-third had continuous careers in the first 8 years after graduation and over half were employed in other occupations at least once (Heinz 2002). ...

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Teixeira, M. A. P., and Gomes, W. B. "Autonomous Career Change among Professionals: An Empirical Phenomenological Study." Journal of Phenomenological Psychology 31, no. 1 (Spring 2000): 78-96.

Townsend, B. K. "The Two-Year College as a First Choice, Second Chance Institution for Baccalaureate-Degree Holders." Community College Journal of Research & Practice 27, no. 4 (April 2003) 273-288.

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