Candidate Pulse slot 4

Traditionally, following a career path meant starting at the bottom and slowly working your way to the top. There was nothing unusual about working in the same sector, and often at the same company, for the whole of your professional life.

Today’s job market is much more dynamic, and many people relish the opportunity to explore different career options. Hopping from job to job and sector to sector is often seen as a mark of success. Talent is scarce, which means the most skilled candidates can rise speedily through the ranks — if that’s what they want. For some, other factors are a bigger priority, such as maintaining a good work-life balance.

People’s career strategies are changing. But how is this working out for them in practice? To find out, Michael Page surveyed 6,286 candidates from mid July through September. The results will interest you.

Today’s career paths are dynamic

The days when a successful career was mostly defined by its stability — start in an entry-level position at a family firm and work your way up — are gone. Almost half (47%) of the candidates we polled said they had moved to a different sector since starting their careers. However, changing sectors isn’t the only way to thrive, with 45% of respondents saying they had received a promotion in the same company.

When is it time to move on?

We asked candidates how long they would stay in the same position before considering a move. Over one-third (35%) of candidates chose a duration between three to five years, with three years the most popular answer. On the other hand, a full 40% said that it depended on the dynamics of the company, suggesting that a flexible mindset is a must-have skill when mapping career paths.

How many jobs make up a career?

Changing career paths takes time and energy and not all employees are motivated to move on. Around 15% of respondents are convinced they’ve found the right job and see no need for change. However, that figure is dwarfed by those who think they will have two (18%), three (18%) or four (7%) different jobs in their career, with 11% believing they will need five or more jobs.

Many candidates are in a hurry. Around 62% of candidates have either already made a career change (38%) or are in the process of doing so (24%). Only 10% of respondents say they have never thought about changing their professional path. Of these, 46% are convinced their current job is a perfect match for them, while 22% think changing careers sounds too complicated or risky. Finally, around 12% of candidates say they have thought about switching careers but don’t know if they will do so.

Motivations for moving

What are people looking to find in a new job or career? Over half (56%) of respondents are ready and willing to learn new things, while 46% see the potential for opening up more opportunities and a better career path.

However, professional growth is far from the only priority for today’s job seeker. Many candidates yearn for a sense of fulfilment in their working lives. Almost 39% want to work for a company with a strong purpose, while 32% are looking for a career that better aligns with their personal values. Outside interests and responsibilities are essential, too, with 41% of candidates looking to achieve a better work/life balance in their new career.

Even in today’s dynamic job market, making a career change is rarely a snap decision. Around 41% of candidates say that it took them several months or years to make up their minds, against 32% who were spurred on by a specific event, such as losing a job (23%), suffering a COVID crisis (14%) or being impacted by a company’s culture or structure (13%).

Upskilling for success

Just because a candidate wants to switch careers doesn’t mean they currently have the skills to do so. Around 37% of those polled said they needed extra training to facilitate their move, against 36% who did not. Among the former, 19% had to quit their jobs to focus on retraining. Around 29% of all respondents completed a skills assessment or received some guidance from professionals.

Employer branding makes the difference

Organisations can draw inspiration from our findings, which show that candidates gravitate towards employers who foster professional growth and an employee-friendly culture. Contact us today to learn how Michael Page can help you position yourself to attract the talent you need.

Are you hiring?

Would like to talk to us about your recruitment needs?

Contact us

Salary Survey

Key insights on salaries by sectors and market trends.

Discover more
Stay tuned!
Receive free advice to help give you a competitive edge in your career.