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  • Leslie Juvin-Acker

What Is A Career Change?

I’m exploring what is a career change – what do experts believe a career change is? And, what is the generational difference between Boomers and Millenials when it comes to a career change?

What Is A Career Change According To Experts?

The Wall Street Journal’s, Carl Bialik, asks readers to think twice about the modern career mantra of a career change every five to seven years.

The reason why this “rule” is not set in stone is because there isn’t enough statistical data to back it up. Bialik says,

One reason is that no one knows for sure the true average number of careers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Labor Department’s data arm, doesn’t track lifetime careers. Even so, the figure is erroneously attributed to BLS so often that the agency includes a corrective memo on its website, explaining that “no consensus has emerged on what constitutes a career change.” What researchers do know is that job changes are common early in a person’s working years: Three in four workers age 16 to 19, and half between 20 and 24, have been with their current employers for under a year, the BLS says.

Another reason is that “career change” is hard to define quotes Bilack,

“The problem is career change is tricky to define,” says Solomon Polachek, a professor of economics and political science at Binghamton University in New York, who nonetheless calls the seven-career figure “a considerable overestimate.”

What Do I Notice Between Millennials & Baby Boomers?

I’ve done enough resumes to know the following: The older the professional, the fewer job changes and more specialized body of skills. The younger the professional, the greater number of job changes and broader body of skills.

While job titles may change from one career move to another, I can say that the theme of  interests, skills and key competencies usually stays the same. For example, I had one client in her late 40s who worked in the hair and beauty industry for over 20 years. She worked as a stylist, then owned a salon, focusing on administration and marketing, taught beauty classes, and then became a director of a beauty school. Same career and industry, different titles and responsibilities as her core competencies evolved and became stronger.

The young professionals I coach have a vision of staying within a career for the long term. In fact, they don’t even want to change careers, but they are aware that they may change industries or that their job titles will change. Careers do and always change, but what is considered a career change? That’s the question we should be asking.

Rethinking Career Changes

Careers in a general sense imply a direction. People change their careers when they feel they are at a dead end. When we want to totally change directions – maybe from a fire fighter to a photographer – then, I’d call that a career change. Staying in sales even though going from pharmaceuticals to consumer goods is still pursuing the same activity. I wouldn’t call that a career change. I’d call that a job change.

If you’re in the military transitioning to civilian life, read this.

What do you think is considered a career change?

Bialik goes further into discussing what constitutes a career change from a research perspective. Check it out here.


Leslie, Inc. offers solutions for finding happiness through one-on-one coaching, mindful leadership retreats, and digital products. If you’re ready to GET HAPPY, check out Leslie’s guide packs. For more tips on achieving your state of happiness, sign up for Leslie, Inc’s weekly newsletter.

#careerplanning #careeradvancement #outplacement #career #executivecoaching #executivemanagement

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