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We Should All Change Careers, And Change Them Often

We're known as the job-hopping generation. Here's why it's a good thing.
Illustration by Ben Thomson

This article is supported by TAFE Queensland, who can help give you the skills for a range of jobs. In this series, we look at work life and careers.

According to social researchers McCrindle, the average time a young Australian spends in a job is 3 years and 4 months. This means we'll have about 17 employers in our working lives, spanning 5 different careers. It's no huge surprise that we're known as the job-hopping generation. Recruiters have even come up with their own term for us: "continuous candidates."


Sure, our parents and grandparents might see this as a sign of restlessness or entitlement. But instead of being bratty, our embrace of change means we're setting ourselves up so we can earn more, grow our skills, and find workplaces we don't dread going to.

We asked a bunch of experts about why making the move is a good (and necessary) thing, how to know when it's time, and what steps to take.

The Recruiter

Phoebe Hamer is a consultant in temporary recruitment. Having worked in the medical-legal and fashion industries, Hamer understands the nature of changing careers well. "Trust your gut and if it's telling you it's time to leave, get out and be kind to yourself."

Half of the talent she works with are millennials, and most of them are making dramatic career switches. "I've seen people go from working as executive assistants to yoga instructors, or project managers to nurses."

The world is changing, and we need to change too. Jobs are transforming. "You have no option but to adapt. It's up to you to go out of your way to keep up with the pace of change or stagnate."

"So long as you're willing to take your own time and put it into reading, researching, asking questions, and constantly wanting to learn, you'll kill it."

While you should give your job a fair go before packing it in, it's never too late to change paths. "Just dive in," Hamer says. "You won't even realise how much that doubt affects you until you're on the other side and giving something new a go."


The Career Coach

"There are new jobs being invented every day that didn't exist before. There are so many traditional roles that are being totally upended," career coach and CV writer Sean Croon tells VICE. "If you sit down with someone and say, 'Here's your career path for the next ten years,' there's no guarantee that any of those jobs will even exist in the next ten years."

So how do we make sure we're ahead of the game? "You need to be fluid and adaptable in order to be able to meet the changing needs of society. It's good to multi-task and be flexible. Forward planning will put you in a better position to take advantage of new careers and new opportunities."

He says learning new skills is like learning to ride a bike. "You keep falling off and everybody looks way better at it than you." It's important to put ego aside, and be open to upskilling—even if it means shadowing someone else, putting in overtime, or taking on tasks that your snobby inner-self might see as below you.

"Realising that change is the only constant is a really important lesson. Because if you don't change, you'll be left fighting over the scraps."

No one wants the scraps.

The Youth Expert

Dr Steven Roberts is a sociologist who specialises in youth. He says changing careers when you're young is not only healthy, but a means for career survival. "Combined with globalisation and rapid technological developments, the conditions are ripe for necessitating multiple career changes."

"While it's not a step that's always easy to achieve, changing a career and looking for the job that most satisfies you is important."


Dr Roberts refutes the idea that young people are apathetic or entitled. "Young people want to work. Mostly people are engaged in work and, as qualifications rates show us, in education. Young people volunteer and participate in all kinds of social institutions." We can use this engagement and drive to our advantage in a competitive market.

What's more, due to the demands and expectations on young people in the workplace, we're accustomed to wearing multiple hats and taking on multiple roles. "Flexibility at the employer's demand is pretty much the new normal."

The Career Switcher

Catherine Kelleher has been a lot of things—a singer in punk band Kiosk, a solo musician as Catcall, a film writer and director, and is now pursuing TV screenwriting. "We spend our whole lives working, so we may as well do something that gets us going in the morning."

There's no such thing as an age cut-off when it comes to changing trajectories. "I believe age and life experience work in your favour. We don't have to do the same thing for the rest of our lives. The transition period might be tough at first. You'll feel like you're starting from the beginning." But in creative industries like hers, approaching things with fresh eyes can be positive.

"There's no one-way to succeed."

Kelleher recommends picking up a part time job or side-hustle to get a taste of a new career before diving straight in. "Casual work is good for creative people. It gets you out of the house and out of your head. Setting goals for yourself is important."

This article is supported by TAFE Queensland. You can find out more about their diplomas here.