Careers Don’t Work This Way Anymore

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One of the things I hate about surfing the web is the astounding amount of crap that is written out there. One of the things I love about surfing the web is that every once in a while a great little nugget of coolness presents itself.

Coolness happened tonight: a Google Alert sent me to a brand new web site and presented me with a great kernel of truth written in a way that is both inspiring — and obvious for those of us searching for the truths of career management.

At Perspectives From the Pipeline, a blog about “observations on the nonprofit sector from the next generation,” we read this:

It’s over. No more vertical. No more ladder. That’s not the way careers work anymore. Linearity is out. A career is now a checkerboard. Or even a maze. It’s full of moves that go sideways, forward, slide on the diagonal, even go backward when that makes sense. (It often does.) A career is a portfolio of projects that teach you new skills, gain you new expertise, develop new capabilities, grow your colleague set, and constantly reinvent you as a brand.

I agree with this completely. It is one of the reasons why “planning” a career, especially one that assumes to go higher in an organization, is difficult to do — especially if planned in one company.

The pursuit of a career should be the learning of new skills that contribute to your overall personal brand. That premise will take you far and wide in the types of things you work on, including working for different companies who can provide the skills you are looking to acquire.

But, it’s not linear. It’s not a ladder. Knowing what skills you want to acquire that helps fit your portfolio of skills is what counts.

What skills do you want to learn? Do you know? Can your company provide those skills?

  • Ellie-Wellie says:

    I think you make a very interesting point. I feel its very relevant to me as i will be entering full time employment soon. However you mention “The pursuit of a career should be the learning of new skills” But isn’t that why we’re at school? To learn new skills which will guide us towards a successful career no matter in what industry?


    • @Ellie – Well, you won’t have a successful career for 30+ years off of what you learned in school, will you? Instead, you will have to learn new skills as you go so that you can successfully stay current or increase your responsibilities in your positions.

      The way to look at it is if you are in a position now and want to move to a different position, what skills will you need to acquire on this job to get there? Then go get them.

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