3 Ways to Embrace a Nonlinear Career Path


by HarSimran Kaur


40% of the US workforce is about to leave their jobs this fall, according to Microsoft's work index. Another report suggests that 4 Million people will switch their careers. Quarantine gave people time to re-evaluate their professional aspirations and reskill themselves for a better life.b Also, many people lost their jobs during the global lockdown.

These have made many workers resort to pivot into new and better careers. However, a major challenge often stops them from achieving their desired, unconventional career change.

Potential employers are questioning career changes and resume gaps. Many employers believe that people with vast experience in a single industry are more knowledgeable and qualified than those who have had a career switch.

If you fall in the category of people with nonlinear career progress, keep reading this article to discover the three ways you can embrace your unique path unapologetically.

Nonlinear career paths: good or bad?

Stacey Lane, career coach, best defined a nonlinear career path as one that "starts out in one direction, but zigs and zags through insights, discoveries and happy accidents. A nonlinear path requires a bit of planning, chance, serendipity, risk and faith." People with nonlinear careers constantly find themselves deciding their next career move depending upon depending on what is happening at the time.

The rebellious nature of nonlinear careers has caused many professionals to question if it is worth it after all.

Thankfully, it is!

Claudio Fernandez, author of It's Not the How or the What, but Who, posits that people who are lifelong learners and can adapt to the constantly evolving world are more successful.

Unconventional professionals tend to excel if they choose their next step wisely. Also, a nonlinear job proves that a person is courageous and insightful enough to experience a career disruption in order to end up in a better position. This demonstrates proactivity.

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Three ways to embrace a nonlinear career

Join the dots

No matter how many times you change your career trajectory, you learn something new every time you start a new position—starting by picking one core skill of every job and then going ahead to showcase them in your resume to secure future opportunities.

For instance, I was a teacher before getting into writing. That experience taught me project management and leadership skills, which currently serve me as a freelance writer. Similarly, I once worked as a YouTube channel administrator, equipping me with the knowledge of YouTube SEO that has helped me stand out from the crowd of writers with majorly writing skills.

You can also use one core skill to make your resume stand out in the crowd by adding diverse skills.

Be confident about your decision

Never doubt your decisions if you are getting the desired results. Progressive employers understand that unconventional career choices are the new status quo. The only reason they ask you questions is to confirm that you were intentional and prescient about your decisions.

On the other hand, when you encounter a traditional employer who prefers a straightforward, conventional career path, here is a step-by-step method to deal with them:

  1. Appreciate them for valuing and encouraging knowledge gaining.
  2. Tell them that they are also correct. Don't be defensive.
  3. Now explain how your nonlinear career equipped you to deliver the best at the potential job.
  4. Be confident while sharing your insights.

Highlight your achievements

While this may sound very obvious, it is the point where most people fail, and I also learned it the hard way. Be it imposter syndrome or any other reason, we humans tend to look down upon ourselves.

Often we assume that we don't deserve to share our progress until we reach the corporate peak. But that is the worst decision you can ever make.

Instead, share your achievements at every stage of your journey. Tout your achievements and work like a proud parent showing off their child. Build in public.

Because you chose an unconventional disruptive career to pursue your dreams, here is an inspirational dose to encourage you.

You need a ground to run and a sky to fly; a single job can't give you both.

Remember every decision that you made is based on data and your future goals and plan. No one understands them better than you do. So never lose your heart because some people can't get you.

Share your zig-zag career journey in the comments or send this article to someone who desperately needs these words.

About Writer

Harsimran Kaur is a Conversion Copywriter and SEO content writer. She specializes in writing copy that converts and engaging SEO content. Harsimarn primarily works with start-ups, small businesses, and entrepreneurs.



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