Why Career Paths Aren't Always Linear - Career HQ
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Why Career Paths Aren’t Always Linear

Did you know that there are 4 different types of career paths? Linear, steady state expert, spiral and transitory. Are you on the right path for your career?

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Understanding which one of these paths best suits your personality and priorities in life can provide confidence and peace of mind that you can follow your own career journey without feeling obliged to live up to expectations or other people’s values.

Having the self-awareness to articulate which path you choose and why can make a huge difference in selecting the right careers and jobs as each interval on your journey.

Linear Career Path

One would think that a linear career would be the typical career path where there is focus on constantly moving up in power and status over time. However, that is not always possible as sometimes linear types can become stuck in a certain position and not progress further. In this day and age, the other career paths are increasing in popularity. Career choices for people can differ depending on how they rank the importance of factors such as power, status, promotion, learning, expertise, escaping, etc. These alternative patterns of career path that people choose makes it evident that not everyone is motivated by power and status, whereas linear types are usually focused on climbing the corporate ladder and have aspirations to be top executives.

Example: Working at the same company and trying to reach higher management roles and acquiring more power, status and wealth.

Steady State Expert (SSE) Career Path

This type of career path is suited to those we don’t value power and status as much as linear types and are more focused on developing their skills to become experts in their field, being high-skilled, mobile and adaptable. Moving into upper management levels is not the main priority as skill, craftsmanship and expertise is more important to them but SSE types will accept linear positions if they want a little more money.

Example: Becoming an expert software engineer but not taking on management roles of higher level and preferring to stay in same position.

Spiral Career Path

Learning is the key source of motivation for spiral types. Even if they’ve reached 80% of the way up the corporate ladder, they would sacrifice power and status for better opportunities of learning as they tend to get bored once they’ve learnt as much as they can in one career. Spiral types will return to school, consider career change, move into another industry or explore other jobs as they value learning, personal and professional development to be constant.

Example: Working in a brand management role, then gaining education in the field of UX and moving into a digital role, and then changing to a designer role.

Transitory Career Path

Work is the least of a transitory type’s worries. They work for the purpose of having enough money to do what they’d rather be doing instead, such as travelling and hobbies.

Example: Working as a nurse in another country for half a year and spending the other half travelling.

Are you new to the workforce and trying to find a career that suits you, or simply looking for a new career in your spiral career path? Take our CareerHQ Career Compass for guidance and find your fit!

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