11 01.2015

Careers in the 21st Century

By Crown Coaching

Careers in the 21st Century

With work being central in our life, new ways of work are emerging. The 9-5 work day is only one option. From the late 20th century and early 21st century, there is the growing trend to multiple careers, and a range of employment patterns to balance work and personal commitments.

Concurrent multiple careers

Workers with concurrent multiple careers work at two careers simultaneously, with one career being dominant, or to pursue a creative need. Often, such careers are also regarded as a “hyphenated” professional identity.

Example one, a “teacher-artist” might refer to an individual who works for nine months of the year as teacher, and during the holidays as an artist. Or, combines both roles in different capacities during the year.

Example two, increasingly, as adults care for grand-children and older generation parents, the worker undertakes their career, and simultaneously cares for the needs of grandchildren or elders.

Workers can adopt concurrent multiple careers for a number of reasons including:

  • financial for additional income
  • multiple qualifications in different fields encourage different occupations
  • personal such as interest or lack of fulfilment in one career

Sequential multiple careers

Over a lifetime, individuals can expect to change their careers 5-7 times. A worker in one career may switch to a related career, or an entirely new career. For example, a teacher who has spent many years in the profession may change their career to being a fitness instructor. Multiple careers reflect the life stage of the individual and the state of the economy. As life-expectancy increases, an individual may seek a career that is less time consuming and demanding, or perhaps, the desire to express another side of him/herself. This will give rise to careers that have individual hobbies at their core, such as wine making, or baking. With a slow economy, many individuals seek to hold a job for security reasons, so that there is less movement between jobs. As individuals pursue lifelong learning, it may enhance their career opportunities for a career change.

Employment patterns

Employment patterns have altered by a number of changes. The Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2009, state that the labour market has witnessed trading hour liberalisation, anti-discrimination legislation, labour market deregulation, and enterprise bargaining. Flexible working arrangements such as part-time work, job sharing or telecommuting can be an option for:

  • parents and carers balancing job demands with family responsibilities
  • mature-age workers approaching retirement
  • employees with study commitments
  • people returning to work after an illness or long absence

Employment patterns are broadened to fit with the challenges of globalisation, consumer trends, study, aging workforce, people returning to the workforce after an absence or illness, and lifestyle requirements.

Flexible full time working hours

An individual works the usual number of hours, however, the start and finish times vary to assist the employee. Some employers such as government provide flexible working hours which can be accrued.

Part-time employment

Part-time employees have predictable hours of work each week with the same entitlements as full-time workers on a pro-rata basis.

The hours of work are arranged to suit employers and employees. This is an attractive option for pregnant employees, employees returning from parental leave, employees requiring reduced hours to meet their family responsibilities in caring for children, sick or elderly family members, for other commitments such as study, or for phased retirement. This arrangement is ideal from an organisation’s perspective as it assists them to meet peak workload periods, and it reduces the salary payout as staff are working fewer hours.

Job sharing

Two part-time employees share the responsibility of a full time job. A job can be shared where employees share the same workload, or divided with particular job responsibilities for each employee.

In a job-sharing arrangement, it is important to ensure that appropriate communication occurs between the job-sharers to ensure the seamless continuity of the position.

Job sharing arrangements can reduce the impact of absenteeism, and are a good alternative for employees seeking part time work.


Telecommuting means the employee is working away from the office to work at home. It can be on set days, or arranged as the work demands. Telecommuting may not be suitable for all jobs, especially those that require face-to-face contact with customers or clients, but is ideal for employees who seek to complete particular work tasks with minimal distraction.

Compressed working hours

Compressed working hours is a formal arrangement where you work normal, full-time hours (e.g. 36 hours, 15 minutes a week) over fewer than 5 days. This arrangement is often used to work a 9-day fortnight.

Purchased leave

Purchased leave allows the employee to take extra leave each year by pay averaging (e.g. a 48/52 arrangement). You work 44 weeks a year, take 4 weeks normal annual leave, and 4 weeks extra or purchased leave. This can suit staff at a school, or employees who are transitioning to retirement.

Casual work

A casual employee has no guaranteed hours of work, and usually works irregular hours. It is useful to meet an employer’s requirement for additional capacity during peak times. A casual employee:

  • is not required to accept particular work shifts
  • does not get paid sick or annual leave
  • can end employment without notice, unless notice is required by an agreement between the employer and employee

Term-time work

Employees only work during school terms and have leave during school holidays. This could be arranged as leave without pay during school holidays when annual leave is exhausted, or as purchased leave.

Flexible working year

Employees work for less than 48 weeks of the year and have additional time off work to care for dependents. This could be arranged as annualised hours, purchased leave or leave without pay as required.

Home based work

Employees work from home and come into the office for staff meetings or progress meetings with supervisors. The employee will need to be highly disciplined to avoid personal distractions, and to meet the job outcomes. Issues such as security, occupational health and safety, and insurance will need to be addressed.

Phased retirement

Instead of retiring from work completely, older employees may consider a phased retirement or flexible work arrangements with their employer.

Phased retirement enables employees to gradually reduce their work hours or days over a defined period, rather than have an abrupt cut off. The objective is to enable the person slowly adjust to new patterns of working and living, to reduce the post-retirement stress.

Work as a consultant

Work as a consultant to undertake projects for different employers within the same or a range of industries. To successfully work as a consultant, the individual will often have strong networks and possess self marketing skills.

Voluntary work

When an individual volunteers to undertake work, they do not receive payment. Volunteering is renowned for skill development, and to make contacts for future employment. Voluntary work can be undertaken on a regular basis, or as- needed in response to particular situations, such as a call for an emergency response, or fund raising charity work. There are many ways to undertake voluntary work. For example: Rotary, health, arts and culture, police and emergency services, sport and recreation, special events where cities or towns host events, and with animals.

Self employment

Self employment may suit individuals who start or buy a business. You can work as a sole trader or a partner in a partnership. Self-employed people generally find their own work rather than being provided with work by an employer, earning income from a trade or business that they operate.

With the range of work options, select the type of work that meets your financial and personal commitments. By working in a capacity that suits you, you will feel career satisfaction and bring a renewed energy to the workplace.

Leah Shmerling is the Director and Principal Consultant of Crown Coaching and Training, and is a Certified Retirement Coach. She has over 30 years experience in career development, life coaching, education and training. Leah holds a Master in Professional Education and Training, Graduate Diploma in Career Development, a number of Diploma qualifications in Vocational Educational Training, and Certificates in Life Coaching, Mediation Skills, and Psychodrama.

Leah is a professional member of the Career Development Association Australia (CDAA).Leah is a professional member of Australian Career Professionals International (ACPi-Aus). She has international accreditation and is Board Certified as a Career Management Fellow with the Institute of Career Certification.

Contact details for Leah Shmerling:



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