''The person starting out today will probably have 5 careers and 15 jobs before he retires,'' claims Ron Krannich, a bearded man in a three-piece suit who wrote ''Re-Careering in Turbulent Times'' (Impact Publications). ''In fact, that may be on the low side,'' he says.
Some two million new jobs are created each year, says Mr. Krannich, a former political science teacher at Old Dominion University in Virginia who ''re-careered'' as a career counselor. ''That's the good news,'' he says. ''The bad news is that another million, million and a half jobs disappear each year. General Motors just bought 14,000 robots to work on their assembly lines. Those jobs are gone.''
This makes for ''turbulent times,'' the counselor believes, that can, in turn , make for greater job opportunities for the average worker than his parents had. ''The last generation - the generation that came through the depression - has this idea that you are lucky to have a job, any job, and should stick with it, no matter how terrible. I call it the 'One Job, One Career' myth,'' he says.
He talks with many who believe the myth ''and are now in good jobs making $35 ,000-$38,000 per year. But they hate their jobs, and they don't think they can face another 30 years of the same.'' Others, he says, ''are slammed against a career change - their jobs disappear, they're fired, their spouses move, things happen.''
Although there's ''no one best time to re-career,'' Mr. Krannich says, it's best to continually examine your career progress rather than wait until you're forced to make a change.
Deciding to start a new career involves ''a certain amount of risk. You may have to take a salary cut immediately, though two or three years down the road you might make that up. And you may have to take a number of rejections.''
''You decide to re-career,'' he explains, ''when you're ready to take that risk. It's a matter of overcoming fear.''
Most career moves will involve learning new skills, says Mr. Krannich. ''Many career counselors take the position that anyone can get a job if they just know how to find one. That's no longer true,'' he believes, in today's technology, where traditional skills are becoming increasingly obsolete.
Mr. Krannich thinks every working person should ''learn a new job-related skill each year. It does not have to be related to the job you have now - you might learn to use a word processor, for instance, or take a course in public speaking.''
What the working world needs, he believes, is ''a new kind of generalist/specialist - someone who knows the technology of today, but is flexible enough to learn the technology of tomorrow.''
Not all skills are technological - or nontransferable from one job to the other, he points out. ''If you can analyze data, supervise people, solve problems, or review material in the job you have now, chances are you can use at least some of these skills in the career you want next.''
Deciding what that new career might be is a matter of examining the skills you have used in the past - on and off the job - and seeing ''which ones really motivate you. For example, I'm a terrific typist,'' he says. ''I type 120 words per minute. But I don't want to type all day long - that's not what motivates me.''
Listing 10 things you love about your job, 10 things you enjoy doing, or ''saying to yourself, When I (retire), I want to have done the following - that will flesh it out,'' he thinks.
Once you decide on the skill you want to use, he continues, ''match it to an objective. Say, I would like to use my ability to -----, which will result in -----. The objective should be work-centered, not self-centered. An employer is looking for what you can do for him, not the other way around.''
Mr. Krannich, who quickly points out that he is ''not a futurist,'' lists several growth fields for new jobs in his book, such as computers, lawyers, and service-type businesses. Some of these, he believes, are ''bound to self-destruct. There are 500,000 people in law school right now, and we already have drugstore lawyers and the beginnings of self-help law.''
Getting on the new job bandwagon is only good for those ''truly interested in the field,'' he believes. ''There are a lot of kids in business school now simply because their parents are telling them they won't spend $6,000 per year to see their child get a history degree.''
Ultimately, anyone can succeed in a field they ''truly love. If you really want to be a secondary school teacher and feel you have a lot to offer to that field, do it,'' he says, pointing to an area that expects a 10 percent decline in the next decade. ''Sometimes there are more opportunities in a nongrowth field, simply because everyone is getting out,'' he says.
Even if you aren't switching careers at this point, Mr. Krannich thinks you should keep your resume up to date, and keep up your contacts in the field.
He also thinks everyone should conduct a yearly job evaluation, ''to see what goals you want to accomplish in the following year, and what new skills you might need to learn to accomplish them.''
Doing these things, he thinks, will prepare you for ''when serendipity strikes, and you get that job offer,'' as well as making you a better employee where you are now - in job No. 1, or No. 15.