A Chameleon Approach to Career Success

Jan 07, 2021

How is it possible that if you are not going upward in your career, you are going down? What about sideways? And diagonal? Besides, is it always detrimental to start afresh? Notions around career building aren’t nearly as inflexible as they used to be. Here’s a look at the new-age career development playbook.

Career success means different things to different people. A vocation that makes six figures, that provides an opportunity for growth, that is resilient in turbulent times, or one that gives a sense of purpose.

Do you think a construction worker who started her own remodeling business is successful? How about a journalist who became a TV anchor? Reaching an agreement would perhaps be difficult for an aircraft maker who quit to join the banking industry.

Building a career is becoming fluid and reinvention is outlining success more than a traditional climb to the top approach. Deloitte says, career development today is like a ‘lattice’, derived from literal lattices found in the gardens that allow movement in several directions. It entails fashioning career growth along varied paths to better adapt to change, much like a chameleon – leveraging a collection of roles, expertise, experiences, and industries. We take a look at a few factors leading this shift.

Source: Deloitte

4 Factors Influencing Career Decision Making

It is important to occasionally step back and reflect on how your career is panning. These are the prime forces auguring a change in people’s perceptions, habits, and attitudes toward career, maybe also yours.

1. New advancements: Race to stay relevant

Joining a job or a career for life is no longer feasible. Thanks to the automation and technological advances, the world is facing a ‘reskilling emergency’. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF),

Within the next two years, by 2022, over 42% of the core skills needed to perform existing jobs will change.

As the lines are drawn and redrawn, several prognoses about the future of work mandate a continual focus on career growth and development to remain relevant.

2. Multiple careers in one lifetime: Self-actualization

While golden advice in the past, one career for life also seems undesirable, quaint, and even redundant (think Gen Z) to many. For average career switches in a lifetime, seven is a widely cited number among job researchers. Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg, herself having trained as an economist and eventually joining Silicon Valley with no tech background, calls such career navigation a jungle gym scrambling instead of climbing a ladder. “I wouldn’t want it any other way. It has taught me resilience and self-sufficiency.”

Baby boomers held an average of 12.3 jobs from ages 18 to 52, and nearly half were held from 18 to 24. – Bureau of Labor Statistics (2019)

3. Working past retirement: Second innings

Some cannot afford to retire for they are supporting families, paying off debt, and bolstering finances and others find post-sixties an opportunity to reinvent, pursue new interests, and teach others what they have learned. Be that as it may, the number of people transitioning toward retirement have reduced.

29% of Boomers in the age of 65 to 72 are looking for work, a trend drastically different than in previous times. – Pew Research Center 2018

Extended career timelines in a technologically advanced world have made it normal for people to jump ships in their mid-40s after having climbed the ladder for decades, and expect promising growth potential.

4. Generational differences: Flexibility over stability

Millennials and a whole generation who never used CD Walkman are joining the workforce and eschewing conventional 9 to 5 jobs. Gen Y and Z aren’t as loyal to a single employer as were previous generations. They are choosing job satisfaction and dream roles over compensation, and flexibility to work for themselves over job stability.

Making Career Adjustments: From A Fresh Lens

Irrespective of the professional level, adjusting career sail in accordance with the forces defining work and workplaces can benefit all – whether you are a trainee, a mid-career manager, a soon-to-be executive, or a seasoned professional.

We suggest development along 3 areas to broaden your offering and career appeal.

Certification for continuing development

Degrees hold less sway, and knowledge & skills more as the time passes. It is effective and arguably shielding at any stage of the career, to take stock and determine where you need to improve and update.

Getting certified is a cost-effective and efficient way to fill gaps in your knowledge, possess time-relevant skillsets, and get validation on competencies in new domains. Since time-bound and require periodic renewal, it ensures continuing education and compatibility with the latest industry standards. Check if your employer can underwrite the fees for getting certified. Many companies now realize the benefits of reskilling and retraining employees. Some wise suggest occasionally putting yourself out in the market and have a little sense of your strengths and worth.

When upgrading, opt for roles and skillsets of the future. WEF forecasts most job growth will come from 7 professional areas.

Source: World Economic Forum (WEF)

Jumping in to gain experience

Clients value people who can take responsibility, navigate difficulties, and are positive to have around. If you are planning to juggle careers or enter a new one, take a dive into real-world tasks along with your training and certification. The world may have changed since you last scrounged for a job. Experienced as one be, it’s important to be able to sell yourself and prove that you can achieve things. Learning by doing is one of the best methods of launching new careers.

Side hustle in new domains

Due to the ever-changing technological landscape and world of work, there is always a niggling worry: what if my job vanishes? A side hustle can hedge your options and give you a back-up. It is a way to experiment with the subjects you are interested in via side gigs and develop your skillset. Start a business, or experiment with a sideline service or two. Eventually, it may turn out to be the safest option as a mainstream career.

When you let your career run on autopilot, you risk falling into the daily grind and losing a long-term perspective of what work means to you. Aim to be proactive than reactive in the face of change. Don’t let your skills go stale and your aptitude fade. Reinvent by taking a more adaptive approach to career development and success.