1.1 Careers: then and now
It used to be the case, that once you had entered the workforce you could expect to stay, either doing the same type of job or with the same company, until you retired. This gave a straight line direction from joining the workforce to retiring. This is much like this direct train journey shown in Figure 1, from London to Leeds, with London being the start of your working life and Leeds, retirement.
However, now work tends to be much more fluid and in some ways uncertain, which can open up unexpected opportunities. This means instead of taking a direct route from the start of your working life (London) to retirement (Leeds), you may stop at a station on the way and change the route to retirement. Many people may spend some time at a station on the way to retirement to take on caring responsibilities as well, and then continue on their way. So, a typical career now may look much like that shown in Figure 2 and not be restricted to one industry or sector.
This means your career can be very different from the one you may have anticipated at the start of your working life. Different events along the way will probably mean that you change direction, and get new opportunities. It is difficult to plan for unexpected events. However, if you are at an unexpected station on your journey, having some idea of how to plan the next step will help you take charge.
Fortunately, there is a clear process that can help with this, as you’ll see in the next section.