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Then & now: could you stay in the same job for 30 years?

Then & now: could you stay in the same job for 30 years?

Posted on August 2019 By Hilary Williams

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I’ve been in the workforce now for nearly two decades but like most people of my generation, I’ve had a varied and interesting career with different roles within different companies in publishing, media, marketing, sales and now marketing recruitment.

Embarking on a career for life within the same company is now almost unheard of in our fast paced, flexible and ever evolving business world.

Which is why this UK Father’s Day, I wanted to talk to my wonderful Dad about his long and rewarding career journey – within the same high street bank for over 30 years. He shares his experiences and reflects on how times have changed since the swinging 60s and 70s.

How old were you when you joined the bank and how many roles did you have in over 30 years?

I joined when I was 19 having been accepted on an accelerated entrance scheme for school leavers and I left when I was 50. By this time the bank was restructuring and reducing the number of management positions. The types of role I had during my career ranged from clerk to management, from personal banking to marketing and from business banking to centralised lending control. I think I had over six roles in total.

When you started your career, did you think you’d still be at the same company when you retired?

Back in the 60s and 70s you really didn’t achieve much by changing jobs in the type of banking sector I was in. The expectation was it was a career for life. And in order to reap the rewards, the framework was there so you could work your way up and happily retire at 60. The training was really good as was the career structure and banks were benevolent employers. At a push, I might have gained more by moving to a different type of banking business such as a merchant bank but I certainly never considered leaving the sector.

As time progressed, banks’ attitudes to employment and career progression changed and are quite different now from that which existed when I started. It may sound boring, but unlike today, there were thousands of branches nationwide, plus a lot of head office departments. You could, and often were, moved around the country. This stopped anything being too boring.

The reasons why I chose to stay and build my career in banking were largely down to good employment conditions, financial stability and ultimately a good pension. This was combined with very real career progression opportunities with promotions every few years. As I progressed, the jobs became much more interesting.

In your opinion, what’s the main difference from working back in the 60s and 70s to now? Do you think the changes are for the better?

There are major differences between the world of work in 2019 compared to when I started my career. The world of the 1960s was more relaxed and more inclusive. Now people work much longer hours and pay can be static for years whereas we used to get annual increases in the early years. Today a much larger proportion of monthly income is taken up with mortgage repayments so there’s less money for other things. 

I think there are just different employee demands and different employer attitudes. It’s difficult to say if this is for the better – there are definitely pros and cons. I can see today’s working world puts greater demands on people with less stability but then on the other hand there’s more flexibility and freedom for people to explore new challenges.

Reflecting on my Dad’s and my own experience as well as talking to candidates, it's a very different world of work now. A lot of the time after a year or two, candidates will often be looking for their next opportunity in order to grow and develop their skill sets as well as move up in their career, whereas back in the day, it was the done thing to stay put and advance your career in the same company.

Speaking to candidates, it's also very popular to contract rather than take on a perm role. This provides opportunities to try different industries and disciplines and the flexibility that a lot of people now desire. In the good old days, I think your job defined you and gave you status in society. Don't get me wrong, people still want a career, to learn and progress but it’s much more about flexibility and having a work life balance. I believe in the saying that you 'work to live' not 'live to work'!

If you feel you’ve been in your role too long and are looking for your next career move in marketing, I’d love to chat. Please feel free to call me on 02 8270 7171 or send a note to hilary.williams@stopgap.com.au.