Who Are You? What’s Next? A Quick Survey Of Different Career Paths

CareerPart 1

From my experience of 25 years working with jobseekers, I’ve seen it be a good thing for them to stop and take stock when they enter or are about to enter a job transition. If you’re thinking about it yourself, it is a great time to get a new angle or perspective on the road you’ve traveled so far.

“How has your career evolved since college or military service?”

Or did you jump into work right out of high school? Understanding and self-awareness are important for processing the choices you’ve made, now that you are at the beginning, middle or maybe even toward the end and retirement…

“Do you feel you really need to make some kind of change?”

Or do you sense that you are on the verge of a brand new direction in your life? Or maybe you think that you should stay the course, keep your current job and continue paying the bills? Whatever stage you find yourself in, you can benefit from looking back on the arc of your career and see how your decisions and circumstances have blended to give you the opportunity to be a force for good in your life’s setting.

As I’ve guided thousands of clients over the years at the beginning of a job search, I began to notice distinct patterns in career pathways. This blog series will sketch out 10 that I feel are very common. Of course, these observations and opinions are not scientific – they’re more intuitive. They are not meant to be exhaustive – they are more representative. These examples are also not meant to be a kind of personality test – only a career overview, based on patterns I’ve perceived over time and interaction. So you may see yourself in one or a blend of two or more.

Bottom line, I hope this exercise helps and gives you an advantage against your competition in a full-on search. You’ll want to make informed decisions about where to put your energy, focus and resources, based on self-knowledge and good counsel from your network. It is very important for you to make good choices as you move forward, allowing for some mistakes to occur, of course. So before you get too far down the road in your job transition, take some time to regroup and refocus – it will save you emotional “wear & tear” later when life springs its surprises on you!

The ten career pathways we will review are (not in order of importance):

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  1. Standard Progressiontop-10-ten
  2. Rapid Transitions
  3. Single Employer
  4. Family Business
  5. Military Transition
  6. Consulting
  7. Institutional
  8. Serial Entrepreneur
  9. No College Degree
  10. Long-Term Job Search [/message][su_spacer]

These distinctions are not based on industry niche or position title – they can occur in Sales, Marketing, IT, Supply Chain, Logistics, etc. in healthcare, manufacturing, software design and all other sectors. Instead, the emphasis on the general flow or unspooling of your career – a sort of satellite view of where you are now, rather than a prediction of how your future will absolutely continue. I have added Pluses and Minuses after each brief sketch.

  1. Standard Progression: This is the title I’ve given to what appears to me to be the most common pattern that I’ve seen over the years. People will stay at a position and/or company for 4-7 years before making a change to new opportunities. Once out of college and past the first real job in business, the trending is typically upward to higher roles and better compensation. And the industry does not typically matter, whether “front” or “back office.” What emerges is a pathway of steady growth in competencies and professionalism.

Pluses: a. this pathway can employers feel good and confident about their ability to be team players and important assets. b. such professionals can be ambitious enough to build momentum for contributing in unique ways and earning promotions, and not contributing to toxic work environments.

Minuses: a. temptation to coast and go on autopilot can arise with no self-challenge to go further and get better. b. this leads to predictability and then a drop in impact and productivity – something employers typically don’t like.

  1. Rapid Transitions: Often people’s inclination or profession leads to frequent job changes – maybe every year or two. This can happen in sales, restaurant or hospitality niches, particularly car sales. The focus seems to be on the next best opportunity – the bigger paycheck. Sometimes a volatile job market or personal circumstances beyond your control can make it hard to have a less transitory track record. Whatever the reason, a jobseeker with this pathway must be ready to really make their case in interviews, projecting competency, dependability and confidence. Employers must understand that the goal is generating greater revenue, profit and market awareness. And who knows? Such a path can transition from rapid shifts to one of longer, steady progression.

Pluses: a. chance to deepen diversity in product knowledge, company dynamics and different markets. b. generate profitable reputation for many achievements in terms of revenue, account and territory growth.

Minuses: a. red flag raised about job loyalty and “stick-to-it-ness” for potential employer. b. employer concerns about investing time and money to achieve fit positive fit.

See Part 2 HERE


Steve Burdan
Steve Burdan
AS A Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), Steve brings over 24 years of writing and supporting clear, concise and effective Resumes, LinkedIn Profiles and other career tools for clients at all levels around the world. He is fully familiar with critical job dynamics and responsibilities in many sectors, such as Sales, Marketing, Operations, Financial Services, Corporate Finance, IT, Consulting, Supply Chain, Customer Service, HR, Advertising, PR, Education, Non-Profit, Government, Military Transition and other niches. Steve always puts a premium on accurately identifying and packaging best-of-best skills, abilities and achievements to create a a more flexible tool and smoother career narrative, and thereby enabling clients to get better traction and results in a successful job search. HE has interviewed, coached and counseled top executives, managers and professionals in environments ranging from start-up to Fortune 50. He has a solid understanding of cross-cultural dynamics – having lived overseas for long periods of time. Earlier in his career, Steve was employed in retained search where he polished his abilities in interpersonal communications, customer service and timely project delivery. He also worked as a college recruiter for an adult degree program. Steve has an extensive academic background that includes multiple degrees.

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