If you’re on the hunt for some good advice from Google on the topic of career progression, you’re going to get barraged with endless content that goes along the lines of ”Five tips to progress your career fast!” and… ”How to get ahead”. With over a hundred thousand monthly searches on the subject, it’s clear that people are feeling the pressure to move up in the ranks and the quicker they do, the better!
My question: Why is the advice always about moving your career in a linear fashion, on a prescribed timeline and not about mastering your skills?
This all started for me when I read an article by the CEO of Korn Ferry sharing how they measure the quality of potential chief executives or c-suites, they use the following 4 key criteria:
Global experience – have you worked across the globe
Linear career progression – ability to have progressed in a linear fashion
Gaps: Are there any gaps in your resume – gaps are a potential cause for concern and are questioned
Increased Responsibility – Have you had progressive responsibility and capacity increase?
So, if executives are able to demonstrate that they have had a linear career where they have increased their responsibility then they are deemed a great Chief executive or C-Suite candidate.
I paused on that for a moment and reflected on my own career path. I don’t have global experience. I’ve been doing the same job for 14 years. Are there gaps in my resume? You bet! Plenty of gaps as I was trying to find my feet. I have also had two children so there are gaps there of course. Finally, have I had increasing responsibility? Well, essentially I’ve grown with my company, but I haven’t really had a significant amount of increase in my responsibility.
I don’t think I would pass a Korn Ferry interview.
This article left me with the same unsettling mood that I have come across often in my career as a recruitment professional, there is so much judgement and judgement often results in companies missing out on the right people working on the right problems. Although I’m very happy in my role as CEO at Reo Group, I also realised many of my very successful and talented “C-Suite” peers would be judged with this same lens by other firms.
“ I also realised many of my very successful “C-Suite” peers would be judged with this same lens.”
I reflected more on this as came across a TV program on the topic prodigy children and how they are born with specific musical, IQ or sports gifts. This show highlighted that although these kids were “super-stars”, they all were at risk of losing their “gifts” if they didn’t show consistent application and practice of honing in that gift. We are all born with gifts. Your gift then becomes a talent and that talent ONLY becomes mastery with repetitive practice over time. I was reminded that it takes 10,000 hours of application to create mastery of a gift.
That made me question the potential for mastery in a linear Career. Should you be doing the same thing over and over again to create mastery or, should you be gaining new experiences which give you more responsibility but not necessarily mastery?
I looked at my career and realised I have 30,000 hours of experience in recruitment, specifically in the discipline of finance and accounting. I think I’m a master at what I do. I went to bed really happy. Happy that it’s okay that I don’t have global experience and satisfied that it’s okay that I have gaps in my resume. I haven’t really increased my responsibility over time, but what I have done is become a master of what I do, and because I am a master I can teach people my trade. I have the potential to inspire hundreds of people around me because I’m passionate about my career.
Career progression sometimes confuses people. When you think about your career if you want to be a master at what you do, it’s okay to keep doing what you do. The pressure of always getting the next job can create a sense of agitation and dissatisfaction in the present. I believe everyone should have a vision and want to achieve more for themselves and challenged themselves to grow – But you don’t have to do that according to the stereotypes that corporate often expects.
At Reo Group we know that at their heart, businesses are simply groups of people, and people are complex. Our method in recruitment is evidence based, which means that instead of allowing unconscious biases and stereotypes interfere; we align the right person to the working context for maximum impact.