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"Time or money?"

November 02, 2016

The new career types: traditional employees as a species on the brink of extinction

In some places, traditional employees are nowadays a species on the brink of extinction that must increasingly give way to economically viable single-person businesses (or losers of change, for that matter). The real scope of this development is unclear and as controversial as the pros and cons of these new forms of work. Greater autonomy, the ability to break free from rigid hierarchies and the emergence of new job profiles are often cited as major benefits. Less favorable aspects include the increasing pressure to perform that people experience in many areas, economic and job insecurity and the thinning of social security nets.

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The business graduates of the 21st century don’t all think and act the same way.

How accepted are these new career types? According to a recent survey, business graduates can be broken down into the following groups:

A Cluster Analysis of Business Graduates in the 21st century

"Freedom-loving professionals" (22%) are cut out for the new realities of the professional world: they readily embrace new career types and put autonomy and professional development before money and prestige. In relation to the other groups, their career performance is average in terms of earnings and slightly below average as far as satisfaction is concerned. A comparison between individuals in the middle and late stages of their careers shows that the proportion of freedom-loving professionals remains the same.

"Materialists" (28%) are interested in money and prestige to the exclusion of almost everything else. The chicken or the egg? Who knows? At any rate, they take home the biggest paychecks and are averagely satisfied. Among the older generations, the proportion of materialists is a good 10% higher than among the younger generations.

"Post-materialists" (20%) are career skeptics. Unimpressed by traditional goals and the temptations of the new career world, they do not care for money or prestige and mistrust the corporate world; what post-materialists strive for is a solid professional background. They are average earners but top scorers in terms of satisfaction. As one would expect, their proportion is higher among the younger generations.

"Security-oriented traditionalists" (30%) are the very antipodes of freedom-loving professionals, and their proportion also remains the same. Basically, they are interested in only one thing: a secure and predictable career in a solid organization. The fact that they achieve the lowest scores for satisfaction and earnings could speculatively be interpreted as evidence of the bleak rigidity of the established corporate world—or as a sign that they are being driven out of the brave new world of work.

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