CAREER PATH TO CAREER PORTFOLIO — REFRAMING TRADITIONAL CAREER MODEL

Dr. Syed Masroor H. Shah
4 min readOct 23, 2023

AI and Covid-19 have revolutionized the life and so the professional careers. It is the professionals of all ages, entrepreneurs, business people and others have to think differently to cope with this unusual situation.

This scenario has sparked a new debate and requirement for the people in their midcareer. We may term it a midlife or midcareer crisis or a sense of urgency to rethink and reframe the traditional career approach.

Career-growth or career development has been the transitional model whereby the professionals gained experience, knowledge and some new competencies have changed jobs from one organization to another. Second model was to get vertical growth or promotions working in the same company for a longer period and most people retired from the same organization. They spent their whole life in one company.

But the career approach or model has significantly changed over time especially during the past two decades. Job hopping, quiet quitting, gig work and lying flat have been the approaches. In recent times, gig jobs and lying flat is much sought after options.

Under gig jobs, young professionals from Gen Z do not pursue one job but do different jobs with different companies with the aim to earn more money and maintain flexibility in their life and career, work life balance in other words.

Lying flat emerged as a career option when the tech companies in China under IT revolution, demanded long work hours from the young professionals. And, the young professionals got tired and they started looking for jobs with less work and also less career advancement that brings stress and anxiety into their lives. They preferred work life balance and personal well being over career ambitions and excessive workloads.

Whether it is Millennials, Gen X or Gen Z, everyone has to build a flux mindset to get ready for career change seeing the situations.

It is particularly important for those in their midcareer. Future of the work is no more linear; it is multifaceted and multidimensional and ever changing. There are different issues that the people in midlife or midcareer will face like age factor in getting a job, overqualification for junior roles, less opportunities if laid off or left the job, being not relevant to the time and needs of the companies, stiff competition and lack of attention and aptitude to learn the technical side of the professional roles. Finding the right roles suiting their experience and qualifications will be really tough. There can be more such reasons but these are quite pertinent.

Career resilience is important than the career development. If the midcareer people are really flexible, resilient and ready for the change, it will benefit them. Career development will begin when they have got a role to play but it is again improbable if the midcareer people are not ready to accept any change. Being stuck in your old experience, expertise and skills is not workable.

So far actual language was missing to design new concept and practice. There is a change from “career path” to “career portfolio”. Career path is just a linear approach climbing a career ladder whereas career portfolio is an abundant source of exploration, exploitation and transformation. Abilities of the professionals not being limited any more if they are conscious of re-inventing their potential. The skills, talent, experience and knowledge can be combined and mixed to reframe the career portfolio. Keep your eyes open and see what new and innovative is there in your arena of expertise. This will open up new vistas and avenues to discover career possibilities. Portfolio grows and evolves whereas a career ladder can wobble and crumble. Few aspects of the career portfolio:

· Internal talent to learn new skills to have lateral career movements. It’s how they are forging new leadership avenues.

· External talent and internal talent can be leveraged over a spectrum of broader skills instead of following a traditional organizational chart.

· Providing flexibility to the employees to reshape their traditional roles and job description to be more in line with the core business milestones. It is how the companies will look beyond the skillsets available on the resumes of the employees.

There is a critical need for the midcareer professionals to develop a portfolio spirit that should be reinforced and adopted by the companies too.

“Career Chrysalis” (gradual transformation coupled with profound change and growth in career lifecycle) is another window that will support the “Career Portfolio”. Here the junior professionals or those in their midcareer will be ready for transformation. In career chrysalis, the professionals can transition from one career to another. It will require new education, knowledge and skills set. Professionals will self-reflect to see their values, positives, negatives, weaknesses and strength.

They will evaluate how they can transform those to acquire a new perspective adding to their portfolio. Networking and relationships will play a vital role in this career chrysalis. Unless it is appropriately shared and displayed through evidence to the right audience, companies, executives and employers. Network and potential relationships will be instrumental.

In nutshell, career portfolio needs to be adopted by the professionals especially those in their midcareer or midlife. It is how they will acquire new skills, knowledge and education helping them in in changing their careers. Relevance is the key. If midcareer professionals are not well prepared, not adequately networked, their careers will tumble and will not be to ensure their proper career placements.

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Dr. Syed Masroor H. Shah

Read, Write and advise on People and Culture, HR Transformation, Life Lessons. Work as Ghost Writer to benefit my clientswith my writing and thinking skills.