What’s your career pattern?

This article will focus on the kinds of career patterns that people have in general. You can explore this and analyse your own behaviours – what is your career pattern?

What’s your career journey pattern?


There will be time when you consider promotions or job changes that are part of your career journey. It is possible to identify four basic career journey patterns or experiences. Your career will fall into one of these patterns or possibly a hybrid of two or more. The four career patterns can be described as follows:

Career Pattern Pattern description Key personal motivators
Linear More or less vertical movement up an organisational hierarchy to positions of greater responsibility (primary traditional view of career) Power, achievement and external rewards
Expert Focus on building skill and knowledge within an occupation or field (secondary traditional view of career) Competence, status and stability
Spiral Periodic moves across related occupations or fields with sufficient time in each (5-10 years) to achieve a high level of competence before progressing on Creativity and personal growth
Transitory Frequent (1-5 years) moves across different occupations or fields Variety and independence


In the past, the world of work was most suited to individuals who naturally tended towards the linear or expert career patterns. However the changes in our global world now tend to often favour those who are proficient with managing a spiral or even transitory approach to their careers. In fact, except perhaps for a few government departments and well protected companies, it is becoming increasingly rare to find organisations in our global economy today that support traditional linear careers. Even fields of expertise are changing and occasionally becoming redundant themselves. Being the number one expert on typewriter repair is no longer a viable career.

The closest to these traditional career paths most of us can expect today is a spiral-expert or spiral-linear hybrid career as we move in and out of various product areas, technologies, functions, organisations, and industries. Hence it is important for you to be prepared to navigate a spiral or transitory career. Expect to move across related occupations or fields. Build multiple competencies. Look forward to enjoying the rewards of creativity, personal growth, variety and independence.

Remember the advice, “the hard way is the easy way”? By putting in the work to raise your awareness at this point in your working life, you are well placed to avoid mistakes many people make after a successful career transition; they get a little comfortable and then fall asleep at the helm of their career. Eventually they may get jolted awake when they hit a rock… they’ve been made redundant, their industry is in decline or their company has gone out of business. Some people finally wake themselves up after years of vague dissatisfaction and realise they don’t really have twenty years of experience in their career but rather one year repeated twenty times. Either way, their career neglect is reflected in their skill set, their employability and their earnings potential. If that is your current situation do not despair. By working through your career possibilities, taking action and developing your networks, you can still create a course to career success.

It is important to stay alert at the helm of your career. As you approach each of your spiral or transitory moves you will need to revisit the strategies in this program to take a step back and reactivate your awareness of which way your career, and your life, is heading.

Maintain your career momentum, and enjoy the journey. Accept that things change, including you and your values, and your need to learn new things. Take responsibility and stay above the line. If it’s time to move on, plan a way to make it happen on your terms.

Your career journey is a cycle, and sometimes you will arrive back at the beginning, with the need to reassess and prepare to impress.

You are welcome to make contact with me if the time is right for you to take more action.

If you need information and support more urgently than this email provides, you are welcome to email me.

I look forward to assisting you in your career planning, job search and subsequent job applications, to empower you to move forward in your career development.

Bye for now,


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