Jobs, they are a’changin’!

One of the challenges that I realized that I kept running up against as I have been developing my book Bringing Linguistics to Work is that I am trying to tell a story that keeps changing.  No sooner would I choose someone to be an example the for E (education) sector for the BRIGHTEN acronym example, they would change sectors.  Or someone would share a resume with me to use as data only to write to say they needed to send me an updated one.  And then again two years later.  Or just as I finished writing the profile about the linguist working at an educational non-profit, said linguist took a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work at national public radio.

You know who you are!  🙂 <wink>

But as with any story, I had to keep asking myself how to tell its emotional truth.  This story has been of course, shaped by the experience of the writer who now has been working on this project for a number of years, and of course the truth is that I was really excited about these developments and these linguists who were brave enough to pursue opportunities when they presented themselves, which was somehow getting lost in the telling of these stories the way that I had been trying to tell them.  So all these years have not been for naught – they have revealed an important truth to me: I was endeavoring to present something as static which I actually understand to be inherently dynamic!

Changing jobs is actually the whole point!!

I had gotten trapped within a storytelling structure that I had not been aware of, much less how much this was in fact constraining the story that I really wanted to tell. And no doubt, this will have been informed by my academic background where I spent a decade being trained to think about a job as a thing that I would expect to keep for the rest of my life.

But my life has taken a different path, and my experience tells me that careers are dynamic. And I am not alone.  Keeping track of where all of the members of your network have gone to in an ever-changing dynamic work reality has got to be one of the most important raisons d’etre of LinkedIn. Further, according to their own research, only about 20% of people are using the site to actively look for jobs. The vast majority: 80% of people who are on the site are only passively looking. These folks might be open to the right opportunity if it presented itself. As we should all be, so say I!

Speaking of LinkedIn, this image came across my newsfeed last week:

Notice that one of the key differences in panel #2 here is that it is not about the destination.

The metaphor that I like to use to talk about career exploration is that of a path – which means that it’s all about the next steps and chasing opportunities where they might lead.  And knowing that there will be obstacles, diversions, surprises, highs and lows, but the goal is forward (and not necessarily upward) momentum, which reminds me that I need to stop trying to tell this story as if it were about anything other than the journey!

Do you have an “If that, then what?” career story to share?  Tell me about it for career paths for linguists.  And here’s to what’s next!!  🙂