Why the ‘Job for Life’ Concept is Fading Fast

In every business there is bound to be an ever-evolving workforce, along with changing attitudes and behaviours towards traditional employment processes.

Not only are we seeing an increasing number of employees and jobseekers looking for variability in roles, but also in employers themselves. Studies have shown that people new to the job market are rarely looking to find a ‘job for life’, favouring instead jobs that suit their lifestyle at the time. And with skill shortages becoming a major problem for employers in certain industries, there are a selection of jobseekers out there whose attributes are so in demand that they can afford to be picky about where they choose to work.

So the first important message for employers here is: make yourself an employer of choice. We shared our ideas on how to best do this back in 2013 for our regular business surgery column contribution and much of what we covered still stands true. What the past 12 months has taught us instead is how the modern employee approaches the ‘work-life balance’ quest, and how much more they now expect from an employer.

Allegis Global Solutions wrote a fascinating blog on this very topic, hitting the nail on the head with the following statement:

“The modern candidate wants an organisation to serve as a talent platform that allows them to fulfil their potential and are happy to move on to a different employer once they feel they have achieved this. You only have to look at the growing prominence of the contingent workforce for evidence of this change.”

Some see this is as a fickle attitude to have, but it is one that unfortunately has been borne out of the impact of the recession, with the millennial generation of workers having entered the job market at a time of instability and uncertainty. Now, as employer confidence grows, businesses must acknowledge that the ‘job for life’ mentality is no longer adopted by the majority of jobseekers, and so must adapt their offering to give and get the most out of employees within a more realistic timeframe.

With research from the New College of Humanities revealing that a staggering 19 out of 20 graduates now change jobs at least once in the first three years after graduating from university, it certainly gives weight to what has been discussed so far. The NCH research is the most recent in statistical reports on this topic, and it shows that career changing goes well beyond the first job. With a third blaming financial reasons for such rapid job-hopping and two fifths looking to gain new skills and experience from different positions, it reinforces the attitudinal change hinted at earlier in on this post.

Also testament to this is the advice that is being given to ‘modern’ jobseekers. Gone are the days where CVs are strictly templated with the main focus on a person’s qualifications. Our latest candidate newsletter tells jobseekers not to hide their personality, focus less on their educational background and more on ‘telling their story’ i.e giving greater prominence to personal achievements and examples of use of skills in real life circumstances. A good personality fit is now much higher up an employer’s tick list when recruiting for new staff, and has become an increasingly important part of the client briefs the team have been dealing with recently.

The decline of the ‘job for life’ is another intriguing and unpredictable way in which our industry continues to surprise and challenge us  – our job is to learn to adapt and move forward accordingly to make life for our clients and candidates as easy as possible.

About the Author

Anne Corder

Anne Corder


Whilst still actively handling recruitment assignments, Anne specialises in Human Resources with many years of experience in that sector. She blogs on wider recruitment issues affecting both candidates and clients, commenting and offering tips and advice to help achieve the right outcomes.