Countless people around the world find themselves working in careers that weren’t part of their life plans for a variety of reasons: financial constraints, availability of “dream job” positions, lack of qualifications, family commitments, etc.

Professional Pivots

The millions of career changes that people have made over the past several years—which Kate Morgan refers to as “professional pivots” in an article for BBC Worklife have been called, by some, the “Great Reshuffle,” she says. While it’s a trend that has broadly been led by younger workers, especially millennials, GenXers are also jumping on the bandwagon, Morgan reports. “For many of these more seasoned workers, the past few years have opened an opportunity to consider pursuing dreams,” she says. “Many have decided to take the leap.”

In addition to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, some experts also point to the classic “mid-life crisis” occurring simultaneously over millions of workers in their 40s and 50s coinciding with the pandemic.

The Impacts of Mid-Life

One driver may be the move into mid-life, made more traumatic perhaps than it has been historically due to the pandemic. Morgan points to research by Andrew Oswald, an economics and behavioral science professor at the University of Warwick in the UK. His research suggests that “many people in their 40s and 50s are inclined to feel unsatisfied or distressed about their lives, so look for ways to make drastic change.”

While more and more employees may be intrigued by the idea of a career shift, Megan Carnegie, in a separate article for BBC Worklife, argues that such shifts aren’t as viable as they once were. “While it’s true that many of these jobs do have endurance, pursuing a new career often requires retraining or re-education—which takes time and money,” she says. “This has always been the case, of course, but now, current economic conditions are making these additional costs more difficult to shoulder.”

The impact of mid-career jumps is difficult to estimate. While countless workers may have the itch to change careers, the realities of the current economy suggest that it simply isn’t possible, or at least easy, for many.

Lin Grensing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.

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