Top reasons why 2024 is the year of the non-linear career

Job seeker priorities, availability and technology are actively disrupting the traditional career journey. The non-linear career is here to stay.

Job seeker priorities, availability and rising technology are actively disrupting the traditional career journey. The non-linear career is here to stay and we've assembled the data to back it up.

New paths

Not everyone goes in the career direction they planned to when they entered college. About 1/5 of graduates with bachelor's degrees start careers that are not aligned with their college majors.

Evolving roles

Jobs are changing faster than the curriculum at schools. Often, new skills are required or need to be learned on the fly.

That's not a bad thing, but it certainly means that job seekers and employers need to be flexible about what career paths their talent takes to reach their destinations.

Quiet times

There are several factors influencing that "quiet" feeling in the workforce.

First, many people retired during the pandemic and have left the workforce lacking in existing skilled workers.

Second, there were 240,000 tech layoffs in 2023, which means that talent is rerouting elsewhere.

Third, employment levels only improved by 240,000 during the prior 12 months. The workforce is just ... shrinking.

Fourth, half of Gen Z want to work toward being entrepreneurs. This will take them out of the viable hiring pool.

And finally, but no less significantly, many working parents lost childcare this year due to the end of American Rescue Plan stabilization funding. This means that workers in the childcare industry will be seeking new employment and parents will have to drop out of the workforce, leaving open positions.

Checking out

Workplace engagement is at an all-time low. Almost 1/6 of employees are quiet quitting. If people can find engagement elsewhere, they will think about leaving.

Quiet hiring is likely to be blamed for the limited investment levels.

Generational behavior

There are a lot of generational trends that are modifying typical career tracks.

Gen Z and millennials represent 58% of the 2023 workforce. These generations have skills previous generations don't but also have distinct skill gaps older generations didn't. These two factors mean that these generations can fit into a lot of varied spots, but still have learning to do.

These two generations are flexible, but they have also come to expect flexibility in return and will find other roles if it isn't offered. If you are specifically banking on hiring and retaining millennials, know that many of them want to work remotely.

Finally, previous generations' job tenure was longer than younger workers. Professionals aged 25-34 only stay at jobs for an average of 2.8 years. Don't be surprised if younger generations move on quickly and try out multiple careers throughout their time in the workforce.


Due to continued inflation, an increasing number of professionals are seeking new opportunities with larger salaries. 47% to be exact. This could mean that they will enter other industries.


Workers are beginning to believe there isn't a place for them. As of November, there were 421,000 discouraged job seekers who will likely broaden their searches as a result.

Where will they go? Somewhere different!

Supply and demand

In healthcare, nurses continue to be in high demand. An average of 203,200 registered nurse openings will be available every year for the next decade. This will likely incentivize college graduates to consider switching majors to pursue the vocation.

Expanding nurse specialties include nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives and nurse practitioners. This will leave holes in other departments allowing non-linear progression of other nurses for backfilling.

New tech, new avenues and new roles

Artificial intelligence (AI) is being touted as the great equalizer. This will open up opportunities that were previously unreachable.

On the other hand, AI may represent completely new roles for those who are skilled at prompt writing – "Prompt Engineer" is a new and growing position.

Changes in hiring

Did you know that 72% of employers are now using skills-based hiring? It's true! In addition, 45% of employers have removed degree requirements, allowing new talent to enter a fresh field.

In general, hiring managers are opening their minds and it's showing! 80% of people who started a new position last year were previously in unrelated functions.


Mental health issues are on the rise among workers. It follows that employers who provide the right benefits and support to deal with these problems will attract top talent. It also follows that some people may leave if said mental health benefits aren't available.

Higher levels of pay transparency are also present in the current market and may lead to unrest in the existing work pools, making them think about leaving for better options, possibly in new sectors.

Depending on the benefits they need, people may choose to make a move toward another employer.

Are you wondering what benefits are trending? Take a look at our article about particularly popular ones.


Learning new skills is easier than ever with online resources like Coursera, LinkedIn Learning and online certifications. Candidates can now upskill easily if they want to enter a new industry! 

Would you like to share this data? Here's an infographic.

Infographic: Top reasons why 2024 is the year of the non-linear career

Are you wondering how you can follow a non-linear career path to a worthwhile destination?

Read Our Non-Linear Career Blog

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