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In future there will be no jobs, only careers

Some people say: ‘Careers are dead, we all just have jobs now’. But the other day, commenting on the disintegrating job market in the recession-hit West, someone made this striking comment to me: ‘In future there will be no jobs, only careers’.

So what is a career?

A few years ago, careers – mostly for men – were about a chronological progression from education into work, then progressing up a vertical hierarchy and finally retiring on a fat pension (all-too-frequently collapsing with a heart attack shortly afterwards).

I don’t think there are many people who view careers like that anymore, especially amongst younger workers. They’ve redefined the word around their own experience and expectations: Comfortable moving between employers, educated by their parents’ best and worst experiences, and fuelled by their aspirations for work-life balance or entrepreneurship. Careers are now less like a ladder and more like a lattice, matrix or – as Peter Hawkins puts it – ‘crazy paving’ (lay it yourself).

So I think it’s the pundits and HR professionals who have the biggest problem with the word ‘career’, realising that the traditional career deal has been broken so many times by employers failing to be honest about what they can offer. In their attempts to avoid the word, they’ve ended up expending a lot of hot air and cold ink on ‘Talent Management’ instead.

For most workers and managers, the word is not a problem but an opportunity to define the kind of career they really want. Here is one definition we have developed at Ci:

“A CAREER is the evolving sequence of a person’s work experiences over time, which allows them to explore and fulfil their sense of identity, purpose and calling.”

That leaves plenty of room for each of us to define the kind of career we need and want, and to negotiate that with the those around us. Today there is not one kind of career, but many.

What does the word ‘career’ mean to you personally? I’d love to hear…


Has anyone found a technology for individuals, not an internal/HR resource, for career pathing?


Written by Natalie Garcia, March 14, 2017

Hi Natalie. It depends on what you’re looking for. If you search for ‘career options’ rather than career paths, there are a number of helpful websites (like this one which show different sectors and their requirements.

Then if you look at professional bodies in each sector, many of them have ways to depict the opportunities/paths in their sector.

However, while ‘career path’ technology is useful, our view is that there are usually more and diverse routes available to each of us than will be shown in a ‘career path’. So the greatest value comes from understanding what we each have to offer, and then exploring opportunities via personal and professional networks. The people you talk with are likely to have great insights, and potential opportunities too.

Hence my comment about ‘crazy paving’ in the article above.

Hope that helps.

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