Updated: Oct 18, 2020
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” - Charles Darwin
Modern career paths have significantly changed and shifted from the way we used to see them. In the era of constant change, there are no more usual vertical go-tos and career development plans fixed in stone.
To grow, both personally and professionally, nowadays you need to follow multidisciplinary scenery. Research shows that the most successful people are those who adapt faster and easier. It means, they constantly learn new skills and go into T-shaped professional development, in other words they are polymaths.
A bit of history:
The T-shaped approach has been in use since the 1990s by mostly consulting and technical companies to recruit and manage talent. IDEO and McKinsey & Company have used this concept for years to find world-class workers who are adaptable and can solve problems in creative ways. T-shaped professionals are experts in one or two disciplines (the vertical bar) and have also mastered other complementary skills (horizontal crossbar) that make it easier for them to adapt to any environment.
Complementary skills include the ability to work effortlessly with others, the ability to apply knowledge across disciplines, the ability to see from others perspectives, and an understanding of fields outside your ownarea of expertise. Embracing the T-shaped approach to learning throughout your career can be really valuable to your career. Some vertical knowledge can easily become outdated but when you have horizontal or niche skills, you can easily differentiate yourself in a crowded market.
Micheal Simons in his blog writes about famous polymaths, who are now beating the classical approach to career, mentioning: Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett, Larry Page, and Jeff Bezos. For example, Elon Musk has combined an understanding of physics, engineering, programming, design, manufacturing, and business to create several multibillion-dollar companies in completely different fields.
How to apply this approach for a career in recruitment?
By now we already know that the classical so-called “career ladder” doesn’t work anymore, and it is especially applied in recruitment, as a cross-discipline sphere. To be successful, you need to master tech, digital, and people savviness skills. Those professionals who adapt and gain a more interdisciplinary mix of skills, will be successful in the future of work.
But how do you define which skills you need and where to focus your career development?
We advise you to use the wearebridge model for recruitment professionals and apply a 5-step guide for your career development:
Step 1: Define your finish point. It’s really important to know the end goal
In this case, the final point would be the specialization you want to receive (for example: employer branding specialist, recruitment marketer, technical sourcer, recruitment team lead, etc.).
The next step would be to define which skills you need to gain. That will involve tech, digital and people savviness PLUS mental skills (look into the wearebridge skills model)
Step 2: Define your skills gap
Defining which skills you are lacking is crucial and you need to build a bridge between your current situation and your desired goal.
There are plenty of techniques on how to do it and Lisa Brezonik & John Rusciano have a handy worksheet you can use.
Step 3: Prioritise the gaps you want to close & get some early wins
Early wins give you something to believe in and help you build momentum. Pick out a few actions that are easy to do. Once you have closed that gap you can move on...to the ones that need more planning and follow up.
Step 4: Develop a detailed action plan
You are now ready to create a detailed action plan using the sample career plan template or adapt it to develop your own. The important thing here is to use something where you can document what you are going to do and use it to track progress.
Your detailed career plan template or action plan should have at a minimum the following columns:
Skills Gap - list all the gaps in your action plan that you intend on doing something about;
Action required to close the gap - using action words write down what you have to do to close each gap. It can be a single action step or several depending on the size and complexity of the task. Also, remember to keep your objectives SMART;
Resources/Support - this is where you write down resources you will use to help you complete the task. E.g. you may use the resources of a career counselor or a local library. Also document any support you may be calling on such as your manager for further advice and direction;
Responsibility and timing - usually you will be putting your name against each action step and the date by when you expect to complete the task. This will serve you as a good guide in planning your daily, weekly or monthly career development activities;
Step 5: Action and review!
Make this process agile and be retrospective regularly. Treat your own success as a project and create recurring “meetings” with yourself to check if you’re improving and what has to be changed or challenged. Good luck!