Is your career squiggly?
I listened to The Squiggly Career on Audible. I was intrigued by the title as it reflects the way I approached my career – it changed direction completely at the age of 30, then zig-zagged while I was bringing up a family and am now entering a brand-new phase in my third age. Careers are changing; they are no longer linear and there’s no such thing as a ‘job for life’. Squiggly careers, where people jump constantly between roles, industries and locations, are becoming the new normal and have the benefit of enabling you to explore possibilities.
The book talks about 5 skills you need for your Squiggly Career. I particularly loved the advice on identifying not just your Strengths, but your Super Strengths; knowing what you’re great at will help you enjoy your work, attract interesting opportunities and be part of more productive teams. So, focus on Super Strengths and don’t worry about weaknesses.
The chapter on Confidence gives some practical advice on addressing your gremlins – your own self-limiting beliefs – that really struck a chord! It also talks about resilience and the ability to bounce back. As I started my career in the 80s, I learnt quickly to be resilient as there wasn’t as much workplace empathy, support and flexibility. Building resilience is as relevant today as it’s ever been – especially in our super-fast changing world.
Another key take-out was the new world of Networks and building your own ‘support solar system’ – it’s all about people helping people, developing meaningful relationships and embracing diverse perspectives. This approach to networking is totally liberating, where introverts as well as extroverts can grow and thrive; online networks, smaller breakfast meetings and seminars enable sharing of ideas and experiences in an easy and collaborative environment.
The final chapter is about exploring Future Opportunities and identifies 3 up and coming career skills; curiosity – make it a habit, feedback – seek it regularly, don’t just wait for it to be given at your annual review, and grit – anyone who’s read Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘Outliers’ will identify with the 10,000 hours principle; “Ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness.”
Listening to the book made me think differently about the traditional definition of ‘career’. I have made a shift away from a full-time career with one company so I can follow a range of passions and interests, some paid, some unpaid – all very squiggly! The book is certainly work a read or listen to, there’s also a podcast and you can hear Helen and Sarah talking about the book on a Ted Talk – The end of the traditional career path.