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Four different career styles

In this article, Heather Jacksic tells about different career styles.
© Luleå University of Technology

A lot of people seem to think that all career paths look the same, essentially, starting at the bottom and working upwards from there.

However, there are in fact many different career styles. Here we will take a look at four main styles.

1. Linear – Climbs the ladder

People with the linear career style start at an entry level position and continue to climb the ladder in their chosen field, often climbing all the way to the top of the organization. Someone might start in the mail room and eventually work their way up to becoming the boss. People with this career style are the people who want to be in charge. They focus on leadership, competition, and always look for ways to be more efficient and cost effective.

Example: From mailroom assistant to CEO of a company

2. Expert – Specific, niche field

As the name implies, people with the expert career style are experts in their field. They are often researchers, scientists or professors with PhDs. They tend to specialise in a certain area and don’t typically look beyond their one chosen field. They are heavily invested in that topic and usually don’t change careers very much because of the time and commitment involved in becoming an expert in their field.
Example: Researcher or scientist
People with the expanding career style want to broaden their area of expertise; they are curious about different areas within their field. They typically value team work and sharing ideas. They are also quite creative. These people are rarely bosses, but have often worked in many different areas within the same field. An example would be someone who works with different HR-related tasks or a computer programmer who works in different types of companies, but doesn’t necessarily move very high up the ladder into upper level management positions.
Example: An HR professional who works with recruitment, then with rehabilitating workers back into the work force after an injury, then with salaries
People with the episodic career style have many interests and change between completely non-related jobs. These people tend to be very adaptable. For them, change is a good thing. They are curious and flexible.
Example: From Florist to Accountant to Personal trainer

Summing it up

A career does not necessarily need to be upward moving; not everyone wants a linear career path. You might adapt the knowledge gained in one field and apply it to another. You may have a combination of career styles. We often don’t plan in advance what career style we will have. After a number of years in the work force, you can look back and see what career path is starting to take hold. It’s your life and your career, so don’t let other people tell you what your career should look like. You get to decide the career style(s) that feels right for you. It could be a good idea to keep in mind that your boss might not understand your career style if they have a career style that is different from yours.

What is your career style; can you relate to any of the above? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

© Luleå University of Technology
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