In the past, careers were often seen as a linear progression from obtaining a degree to landing a dream job by a certain age and working up the ladder until retirement. However, in 2023, this traditional view of careers has changed, quite a bit. With increased accessibility to the world and the flexibility that comes with it, careers no longer need to be a lifelong commitment. As a result, there are now a variety of career paths and personas that individuals can choose to follow.
Let's look at the different career personas and identify where you are at today, and where you could be as you consider the evolution of your own work.
Desire for regular upward movement with increased level of responsibility with each milestone. This is the traditional career path.
Example paths: Lawyer, Accountant
They value: Loyalty, inspirational leadership, status
Gaining broad skills and knowledge across various lateral and vertical moves throughout their career, while consistently building knowledge in their primary domain.
Examples: Management Consultant, HR Manager
They value: Learning, variety, personal growth
The SME (Subject Matter Expert)
Deep commitment to a single profession with the intention of mastering the skills in the field.
Examples: Physician, Teacher
They value: Community, security, commitment
Taking career leaps that are unconventional and without pattern to consistently try new roles and industries.
Examples: Psychologist to Real Estate Investor
They value: Flexibility, independence, variety
By now, you should have identified what your career path has looked like to date. The most important thing is that you have the freedom to mold your career path into whatever you want it to be. It doesn't have to fit into one specific persona. For some people, their career may align with one of the personas for their entire life, while others may embody a combination of two. You could begin your career as a Traditionalist and later shift towards becoming a SME. Alternatively, you might start as a Generalist and explore different careers due to your diverse skill set. The bottom line is that you can adjust your career path to match your evolving needs and interests. Here are some reflection questions to consider:
Which persona do you most closely align with to date?
Consider your past and current work experience, skills, values, and interests to identify which persona you align with the most. Are you someone who values loyalty and upward movement within a single profession like the Traditionalist? Or do you enjoy broadening your skills across various roles and domains like the Generalist? Are you committed to a single profession and focused on mastery like the SME? Or do you prefer to take unconventional career leaps and try new roles and industries like the Evanescent?
Which of these personas would you like to transition into in the future, and why?
Think about your future career goals and aspirations. If you are looking to transition into a new persona in the future, it's important to identify your current strengths, skills, values, and interests, and then consider what you want to gain from your next career move. Do you want to specialize in a particular area and become a subject matter expert? Do you want to broaden your skillset and take on new challenges in different areas? Do you want to try something completely new and unconventional?
What are some non-work related efforts you can invest your time into, to help you make the transition?
Consider what you can do outside of your current job to help you transition into your desired persona. Can you take a course or certification program to gain new skills? Can you volunteer or do pro bono work to gain experience in a new area? Can you attend networking events or conferences to meet people in your desired profession? Can you take on a part-time job or freelance work to gain experience and build your skills in a new area?
Remember, your career path is not set in stone, and you have the power to shape it into something that aligns with your interests, values, and goals. Take the time to reflect on what you want out of your career and take actionable steps to make it a reality.