On the right to find your way

It is commonly believed that Gen Y and Gen Z’s careers will be like « zigzags », more and more fragmented compared to what used to be the norm, long-term contract being some mirage of the past.

This factor takes root on both sides of the equation. On one hand the companies leader in their field are counting on an increasing share of contingent workers and freelancers, shifting toward a Talent As A Service (TAAS) era, where capabilities are needed only for short periods to respond to a fast evolving environment and remain agile. One the other hand these generations said goodbye to the « one job in one company for life » security that their parents had and at the same time are looking for more sense in their work with respect to their personal aspirations. This pursue of sense is coupled to the fact that we live in an era where new jobs emerge every day and where the old economy, which was used to shape these generations skills and frameworks, disappears. It is then easy to understand how hard it can be for a young adult entering working life to find his/her way.

In the light of these facts, couldn’t it be normal to make trials and mistakes in our career choices? To look for other opportunities somewhat unrelated to our past experience because we just feel the need? The need to explore, just by curiosity; the need to feel good in our job, to feel empowered and to realize ourselves? All this without being judge negatively?

Yes! It is possible. Don’t be ashamed because you like several things, because you have a hard time to decide what’s best for you. On the contrary, take this opportunity to discover, to develop your diversity. This will be your richness, your most powerful asset: Flexibility, ability to adapt and learn fast, to bring innovative solution … are among the things you will gain.

He who never failed won’t be able to show you the path to success

I use to say to my students the University: Go ahead, try, make mistakes, fail because all of this is learning. This process is building inside yourself the knowledge that will allow you to recognize the wrong path or identify the right one. We spend all our life learning about ourselves: How many sports did you tried before getting addicted to one and then change again? How many clothing style did you adopt and how many changes will you still undergo in the future?

If it is so generally accepted that it takes exploration to develop our tastes and that these evolves all along our lives, then why shouldn’t it be the same for our career? By exploring you will learn which professional environment does not suits you and what you need in your job to thrive i.e. to feel accomplished both professionally and personally.

Of course this process is not a simple one. You will need the right tools, and ask yourself the right questions, to reflect back on all your past experiences and build out of these what will be ‘your’ career. Many people can help you walk that path: Friends which have undergone this process in their past, professional acquaintances that can help you identify your strength and weaknesses or career advisor services that are starting to develop in many countries, providing structure for workers wondering what is the right job for them.

Align with your own path before trying to convince others

What about the perception of hiring managers and HR supervisors? It is true that uncommon careers can let people to the wrong idea: Indecisive, cannot commit, is no expert in anything … These are all comments I heard during interviews as a candidate. You won’t be able to convince every one of the soundness of your career choices. But you can put all chances on your side by working on your story: What is the governing principle that ties all these pieces together and brings coherence to what could appear as an erratic career otherwise? That’s your job to identify it, by analyzing your choices, exchanging with others. Then and only then you’ll have the upper hand. Who could blame someone for taking his career in his hand and act on his needs? Who could undermine someone who just did the best he could to find his own way and be the happiest possible in his working and personal life? No one.

So try, explore, train yourself, fail, try again, be open to new adventures, just discover yourself and along the way don’t try too hard to fit others: You’ll find soon enough the place where you belong and where everything makes sense….for the moment…