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Think of Your Career Like a Smartphone, Not a Ladder, Says Google Career Coach

Topics: Career Advice

Recently, Jenny Blake, a former Google career coach who also co-founded the company’s career mentorship program, offered a new way to think about our professional paths. She says we should think of them less like a ladder and more like a smartphone. Instead of climbing rungs, we should “download apps.”

Image Credit: Adrianna Calvo/Pexels

“It’s up to you to download apps for different skills, interests, and side projects that sound interesting and fulfilling to you,” Blake told CNBC.

The old idea of climbing the corporate ladder feels more than a little outdated. It’s simplistic to see our careers this way. These days, our professional goals are more complex than attempting to ascend as high as possible before retirement. It’s time for a fresh perspective.

Our careers should be dynamic.

It’s high time we let go of the idea that our career path should be a straight line. Instead of pursuing raises, promotions, and just general “advancement,” we are increasingly motivated by passions. Today’s workers really want to feel excited by their jobs, and by the role they play within the broader context of their companies and even the world. They want to feel connected to what they do.

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It’s these drives that have led to something of a new normal when it comes to career trajectories. For millennials, this boils down to an average of four job changes before the age of 32. Often, these young workers aren’t just changing jobs, they’re moving into entirely new industries. These dynamic careers don’t fit into neat and orderly little boxes, but there’s nothing wrong with that.

Our career paths ought to be dynamic, too.

Given the current reality, it’s appropriate for us to let go of the idea that our career path should be straight and narrow.

“Any job you take will give you apps that will help improve time management, communication, money management,” Blake added. “Any skills you learn at that job can then be parlayed into the next move and then the one after that.”

The big idea here is that we are responsible for directing the course of our own careers. We should give time and energy to the pursuits that interest us. Everything doesn’t have to tie easily together in an immediately obvious way. Instead, we should know that following our passions could have a very positive impact on us professionally at some point in the future.

The significance of the career pivot.

Broad, sweeping professional changes aren’t always necessary when it comes to keeping a career fresh, inspiring, and forward-moving. When we pursue our interests and passions, we build on the career we already have and start to direct it toward where we’re hoping to go. This helps us prove our professional worth to future employers.

“No matter our age, life stage, bank account balance, or seniority, we are all being asked to navigate career changes much more frequently than in years past. The average employee tenure in America is just four to five years, and even those roles change dramatically within that time,” Blake explains on her website.” Our economy now demands that we create businesses and careers based on creativity, growth, and impact. In this dynamic world or work, the only move that matters is your next one.”

Tell Us What You Think

What has your career path looked like up to this point? Where do you hope to go in the future? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.


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