A Non-Linear Career is Not Only Possible But Desirable
Most people imagine their career will move along an expected, safe and predictable path. Not many imagine that a non-linear path is in their future. Fewer still imagine that they would actively choose this option. But many are and are finding unparalleled success. The fact is, career paths and advice that worked for prior generations just does not work for today’s young workers. Compared to 20 years ago, graduates company-hop at a high rate during their first five years of working. You need the flexibility to switch careers when you are forced to, and the confidence to switch when you want to.
Anjali Sud, the CEO of Vimeo is probably the best example of this. Her story is a textbook example of how a non-linear career can work in your favour. As Sud says herself, “I wish I had known that careers aren’t linear. When you’re young and in school, you work so hard, and there is sort of a linear path. You know? You find a major and you specialise in it, you try to get a job”.
She goes on to say, “When I look back at my career path it was incredibly not linear. I wish I had known that so I wouldn’t stress out so much about not having a perfect path or not getting that job interview. Instead, having the faith that you can affect your career path at any point and realising that opportunities come from places you could never imagine. I wish I had known that. I think I would have been more chill.”
It is All About Your Transferable Skills
According to several career coaches and head-hunters, transferable skills are what a growing number of employers are excited about exploring. Skills such as team management and customer service create opportunities for people to be hired and open avenues for advancement.
Devin Martin, the founder of US-based LifeStyle Integrity, endorses the same approach. “Focus less on the resume, more on the story that connects them,” he says. “What’s becoming valuable are the capacities to pivot, to adapt, and synthesize, and these aren’t industry-specific.”
Many job applicants imagine that their resume has no connective tissue in terms of logical carer progression. The fear can grip them so much they stagnate in jobs that are making them unhappy. They do this because they fear they have nothing substantial to offer.
Some Tips to See Your Non-Linear Career Flourish
Career experts are reporting that more employers seem curious, if not enthusiastic, to hear new ways of approaching prospective hires. “Most business owners value someone who can take ownership of a situation,” says Martin. They want someone “who can think on the fly, far more than those who are really good at checking boxes other people have drawn for them.”
Well, as we have said, transferable skills are an essential tool. Build skills you can use across many industry sectors, like problem-solving, relationship building, and project management. Be aware of your surroundings. This means learning to notice and adapt to different working cultures, goals and terminology quickly. That is critical to fitting in and moving up. Network! Build a network that cuts across many industries and sectors. A diverse network will help you switch careers later in life. Yes, this means keeping your LinkedIn profile active and up to date.
One final thing. Do not be afraid of change, either if it is thrust upon you out of the blue or your work is necessarily contract-based. Embrace them, take advantage of the fact that you have – and are continuing to acquire – skills that your linear colleagues simply do not possess. Be prepared to make that leap into the unknown.