Learn what career paths look like in today's ambiguous workplace. With the traditional career ladder quickly becoming a thing of the past, gain new insights into how the modern worker has to be flexible and create new paths that don't necessarily follow a predictable or straight line.
- New research suggests that upward of 65% of today's school children will graduate college and start in jobs that currently don't exist. This means that the pace of change will not slow down any time soon, in fact, it's likely to speed up. As companies become increasingly nimble and move to flatter and more complex organizational structures, the concept of a traditional career ladder is quickly dying. The idea of lifetime employment and climbing a career ladder rung by rung is being replaced by self-directed careers.
Let's bring this shift to life by examining the careers of two professionals. Meet Bill. Bill joined his current company right out of college. Bill was rewarded with competitive pay increases each year, he was even put into a special training program to prepare him for potential management roles. After 15 years with the company, Bill has been part of some innovative projects that have demonstrated his ability to lead. Bill has been promoted four times already and sees a vice president title in his near future.
Meet Anna. Anna completed three internships before landing a full-time opportunity. After six months on the job, Anna's team merges with another team with different leadership. Anna's learning a lot of new things, but is struggling to get time with her manager to discuss her development. After one year, she decides to leave the company for a new opportunity. In fact, Anna moves companies every two to three years, building a variety of valuable skills in the process.
After 10 years in her industry, she's being considered for a vice president role which she's weighing against starting her own business. As you can conclude, the difference between Bill and Anna's experiences are vast. Bill's story represents a traditional career ladder. Although some organizations still support this model, most are unable to because they can't predict their future needs. This means they can't offer employees a guarantee for titles or pay.
Anna's story represents a career jungle gym, which is more common today. It's where employees swing from one experience to another, sometimes sideways, up, or even down, all in the spirit of progression. Think of a child on a school playground jungle gym. They move forward by swinging to the next bar, slide down a pole, or even climbing up levels. This is how the modern worker has to think about their career. The key word here is think.
Successful career pathing in today's workplace means adopting a new mindset, one that enables you to be personally agile and resilient. So, the first step in taking charge of your career is asking yourself what you believe about your career and the opportunities available to you. As I coach professionals, I find that many don't even realize why they feel stuck. Upon digging a little deeper, they find that it stems from waiting for their manager to present them with growth opportunities.
While there are many great managers, most are struggling themselves and don't have the capacity to be career coaches. We could argue that great companies should do this better, and I would agree, however, it's your career. This means that if you want to grow and achieve your personal goals, you're the best person to create your career path. Shifting from a career ladder to a career jungle gym mindset means taking 100% accountability for your career.
You know you've made this shift when you can articulate where you want to go next and start seeing opportunities you hadn't seen before.
- How the workplace has changed
- Creating a career vision
- Creating short- and long-term goals
- Mobilizing: Identifying resources, mentors, and your online brand