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How you can develop the career you want

This step will outline the different approaches people can take to developing the career they'd like.

We are fortunate that in today’s world there are many different approaches to developing a career.

In this step, you explore a few of those approaches and share tips on how to find which works best for you and the career that you want.

Venn diagram featuring passion, mission, profession and vocation Select the image above to see an expanded version.

Before you explore these further, there are a few key areas you need to keep in mind:

  • Career goals
  • Knowledge
  • Skills
  • Personal characteristics
  • Experience

In order to start on the career path you want for yourself, you need to make a plan about what you’re missing in each of these areas and what you need to acquire. Identifying purpose or focus in this way is called ‘ikigai’ in Japanese. You can read more about ikigai by visiting the links in the See Also section.

Whichever approach you choose to develop your career, these are areas you will need to focus on to see what could be further developed as you build your career.

Now let’s explore five different approaches:

1. Matrix

The matrix approach is about having skill sets in different areas and bringing them together to create a profile that is distinct to you. You may have a variety of interests you want to pursue. With the matrix approach, you can explore how to combine these interests into a role which is unique to you.

For example, someone who would like to study web programming, as well as design, could look to combine these interests and become a web developer for any company or organisation with an online presence.

2. Ladder

The ladder approach is better suited for those who know exactly what career or job role they want. They have a dream job in mind or a dream company they wish to work for, so they’re willing to work their way up the ladder to get there.

For the person that aspires to work in television, that might mean starting out as a runner on set. They may then work their way up to get a role as a director or an executive producer, or whatever that ideal role might be.

3. Entrepreneurial

The entrepreneurial approach is about turning an idea into a business and learning along the way. You apply your current skill set whilst rapidly growing your capacity in all areas of business. It takes a lot of work, patience and courage, but can be deeply rewarding for anyone who finds this path to be of interest.

4. Network

The network approach is geared around building a network of contacts that will be mutually beneficial. For example, if you were at a tech networking event and you met a few founders, this would be a great opportunity for you.

What is key in the network approach is to ensure that you’ve thought through what you can offer someone, so that it’s a mutually beneficial and authentic relationship.

5. Portfolio

Creating a portfolio might be more commonly associated with jobs in photography or graphic design. However, it is both relevant and necessary across many disciplines. Many employers will want and need to have an idea of the type of work you can do, so the portfolio approach is a great way for you to demonstrate your skills.

If someone were looking to build a career in public relations, for example, they would be at an advantage if they had a portfolio of their previous coverage. This highlights not just their contacts but what type of work they are capable of doing.

A portfolio is just as valuable a commodity as your CV, so you should build one in line with the career you are interested in pursuing. It is also a great way to share your work and skills with people beyond a job application. For example, you could add it to your LinkedIn page, website or any other medium.


Choosing the best approach for your career is an essential component of your lifelong career development. There’s no guidebook or master plan for building your career. You can take a sabbatical, be a stay-at-home parent, or even move down a position.

The important thing to remember is that your approach is your own. If you find that multiple approaches like those mentioned above appeal to you, find a way to combine those to take the right approach for you.

Share your experience:

Have you already been using any of the approaches mentioned in this step?
  • Can you find any examples of other approaches for developing your career?
  • Why not have a go at exploring a few of these approaches further?
Share and discuss your responses with other learners in the Comments section.
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