Has the Career Ladder Vanished?

Career advancement used to be represented by climbing a “ladder” upward to the next opportunity.  However, today’s dynamic economy and changing workplace trends have also involved lateral and backward career moves that are better represented as climbing a “rock wall.”

Change the Career Advancement Paradigm

Progression from one established position to the next has been replaced by career patterns that are more fluid, flexible, and responsive to the needs of businesses and individuals.  People who accept this shift and embrace a continuous learning approach will be more successful in achieving their career goals.  Moving up is not the only way to advance your career as lateral or even downward moves can put you in a better position for a future move forward.

What is your personal definition of career success?

As was mentioned in last month’s blog, the definition of career success is different from person to person.  There is no one approach for the customized plan that advances each person’s unique career goals.  The first place to begin is to understand what is important to you and be clear about where you want to be.  Try answering the following questions:

  1. Where do you see yourself in two, five, or ten years?
  2. What kind of work do you want to be doing?
    • How do you want to be doing it?
    • With whom and under what circumstances?
  3. What do you want to achieve in your personal life?
  4. What talents do you want to leverage or develop?

How can changing careers help to advance?

Changing your career can be one way to advance, but you will need to be able to convince your future employer that you can do the job.  There are three ways to go about making a career change:

  1. Upgrade skills and knowledge through training or education. It is important to be strategic about what training you need.  Research the “Requirements” section of job ads, and then conduct a gap analysis of what you might be missing.
  2. Change careers via the two-step process. Change your employer first, and then change your functional role.  Or change your functional role first by switching departments at your current employer, and then change employers.  Understand that a time investment is needed at each step of the process.
  3. Volunteer to learn new skills, meet new people, and help out others. Develop skills outside the workplace to leverage your job marketability.

Seek out Support

When looking for that next foothold on the rock wall, it is important to enlist the support of friends, family, and other resources.  Consider participating in a Job Search Work Team that can provide support, ideas, and accountability in your job search.  The Office of Alumni and Career Services at the University of Richmond offers Career Services for Life for U of R Alumni.  Contact (804) 289-8547 for more information.

Tonya Osmond provides career consultations for Alumni and SPCS at the University of Richmond.


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