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The death of the traditional career path

The traditional career path is now dead. Not only is it increasingly uncommon to find someone who has worked at the same company their entire life, but it is also no longer the end goal. Until as recently as 10 years ago, a desirable career trajectory was the path of least resistance. This often meant staying as long as you could at the same company and rewarding yourself with an impressive retirement package. Today, the end goal is different, the marketplace has changed, and there is now no such thing as one, linear career path.

Daily fulfillment vs. salary maximization

Designing a career that is satisfying, filled with diverse experiences and daily freedom, as opposed to freedom only after retirement, is becoming the new norm. The traditional sign-posts of success—high salary, big office and impressive title—are no longer top job incentives. Flexibility, generous vacation packages, rich training programs, commitment to social responsibility and independence are the new top drivers for today’s workforce. These new values and attitudes towards work are part of the reason why career moves like freelancing, job sharing, starting a business and combing two different jobs to create full-time work are popular choices.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint

Not only are people looking to build a career worth having, but they also realize that moving up the corporate ladder and fast-tracking their career isn’t always the smartest move. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg believes that a career ‘jungle gym’ is much better than a career ladder, stating that, “I could never have connected the dots from where I started to where I am today.” The problem with bee-lining it straight to the top, is the risk of missing out on important skill-building lessons and being left unqualified to succeed in a promotion. Former eBay CEO, John Donahoe believes that, “leadership is a journey, not a destination,” and finding fulfilment, reward and growth in that journey is what you should be looking for as you design your career maps.

The importance of staying relevant

With companies now demanding that candidates possess diverse skillsets, and with the rapid pace of changing technology, the most important career goal is to stay relevant. Remaining in the same profession, let alone the same company, could lead your career down a dead-end. It’s important to realize that if you don’t expose yourself to different work experiences or keep up with the latest advances in your profession, your skills will become out-of-date quickly. Looking for dissimilar work experiences and breaking from a linear path is one of the best ways to cover all of your bases when it comes to what the future could bring. This might mean making a number of lateral moves, working for a competitor or going back to school.

While your career path will most likely not take a linear one, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t plan your next step. Thinking about what your next career move will be is crucial to ensuring you are investing in yourself and staying ahead of the job market. Not making the right career move at the right time is one of the biggest career mistakes that you could make. Stay ahead of the game and watch out for these 10 warning signs that it’s time to make your next career move.

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