Dream job or career nightmare?
A research report by OPP July 2007
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Introduction Methodology Square pegs in round holes The rise of the career nomad Insight, hindsight and the drivers for change The misguided search for global talent Country snapshots - Belgium - Denmark - France - Netherlands - Republic of Ireland - UK Tips for employees Tips for employers1 1 2 6 9 14 17 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
career /kuh-reer/ –noun – an occupation or profession, esp. one requiring special training, followed as ones life’s work – a person’s progress or general course of action through life or through a phase of life, as in some profession or undertaking – success in a profession, occupation, etc.
“If I had known more about myselfin advance... then I would’ve done some things differently” – Dutch respondent
We undertook this research to understand whether working life meets the aspirations of employees in some of Europe’s key markets. What were people’s career hopes when they were young? Is it now a case of dreams fulfilled or daily grind? Are people making the best use of their natural talents and skills? Crucially,what support are they getting at key decision points in their lives and in their work to help their ongoing development? The results provide dramatic confirmation of the rise of the restless ‘career nomad’: a job for life is not only dead and buried, but multiple career changes are also becoming the norm – whatever your sex, age or nationality. Such flexibility and opportunity is welcome, but ourresearch also identified an underlying career malaise or dissatisfaction, which should be cause for concern. Overwhelmingly, people feel they have not yet found their niche, are in the wrong jobs and are not tapping into their potential. With next to none pursuing the paths of young dreams, most regret their career choices and would do it differently a second time around – although some nations arebetter at making the most of their current situation. The drivers are many: money, naturally, plays a significant role, as does the desire to be challenged and fulfilled in our jobs. However, it’s the greater self-awareness that comes with age and experience that is the biggest driver for a desire for change. The voyage of self-discovery is an essential part of life, but the benefit of betterinsight into our personal strengths and preferences at the outset of our working lives would be welcomed to shape better career decisions and give greater self-fulfilment. Crucially, when the search for and retention of talent is supposed to be at the top of every employer’s agenda, organisations seem to be doing remarkably little to help employees – and themselves – identify or develop potential. Atwhat cost? Wasted skills mean lost productivity but equally, with a swathe of full-time employees intent on career change, European employers face a major recruitment and training bill in the future. The search for talent clearly needs to be re-focused, closer to home.
In April 2007, OPP commissioned Research Now! to conduct an online research survey across six European countries,with a sample of 500 people in full-time employment in each country. The research was conducted among a panel selected to be representative of the working population between 20 and 69 years, with an equal number of male and female respondents.
Square pegs in round holes
A sea of untapped potential?
Our research found that the idea of the ‘dream job’ is alive and well in the hearts andminds of employees across Europe. However, few have achieved it. At best, the result is a widespread case of ‘square pegs in round holes’ and, at worst, general career malaise and a sea of untapped potential:
l Nearly six in ten (58%) employees would choose a different career if they
could start again.
l A further three in ten (31%) feel unfulfilled by their current role,
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