Go to college. Get a degree and a job. Work and retire. Many would argue that there is no such thing as a linear career – well, at least not anymore. Whereas in the past employees would stay at a single company for years and patiently wait for their promotion and pay rise, today it is no longer the case. Now the majority of young employees are more likely to experiment in their career, moving from one job to another building on experience and increasing their expertise in a wide range of disciplines.
Doing this is undoubtedly challenging and risky, but at the same time really rewarding. It equips you with all-rounded work experience and a unique blend of skills that allow you to further your professional practice and manage your career more effectively.
This has become the new job market trend since the economic crisis hit. Professor of Management at the Wharton School, Peter Capelli stated that “What we see now are more ‘herky-jerky’ careers. People stay in jobs during the recession a little longer than usual, and then when they move, they don’t necessarily move in predictable ways”. Given the fact that jobs are no longer stable enough to guarantee a steady income and good quality of life, you need to be able to explore and assess alternative choices instead of relying on a ‘job for life’.
Other professionals also claim that a “squiggly” career seems to be more appropriate for the younger workforce today. In fact, in his book, Ctlr Alt Delete, Digital Marketer, Mitch Joel says that in order to succeed you need to be willing to embrace change adapting to challenges and opportunities just like a businessman. This means that you need to become more self-reliant and learn how to use planned happenstance effectively..
The one thing that’s certain is that success isn’t linear, and this is evident in the business world. Very few people know exactly what they want to do in their teens and this no different for many of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs. If you look at Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, both left school to go after their passion practically blind, tossing the traditional trajectory of their academic career in the bin. All they had at that point was an idea that could only help them land their first job – or startup. After that, their road to success and riches was full of bumps, a series of failures and disappointments.
But along the way that’s how you learn. Such experiences make you the person you aspire to be and force you to make adjustments to help you fulfill your career aspirations. In this regard, going against the grain isn’t a guarantee of success and although seems to be risky it’s something that’s worth trying. It will help you find what your professional self is made out of, embrace your weird quirks and allow you to work your way up to the top.
So strive to make a difference by not following a linear career trajectory. Be open to changes to bring evolution, challenge yourself and be willing to change your career to an entirely different one if need be. Provided that you have strong networking and transferable skills; the skills you can apply to a variety of professions and situations, you too can lead a successful non-traditional career.
Remember that your career path will be unpredictable, but this is a good thing. Life has its own twists, ups and down, the fact which makes it impossible for you to foresee and prepare accordingly. The one thing you can do though is make the most of what life gives you in any situation. Your ability to identify opportunities that match up to your passion will help you move forward chasing after what you want from your career.