Careers are not linear but like a labyrinth

Tradition is dead; evolution is present. We are officially way past the “archaic” model of modern
living. Diversity, individual expression, and a thirst for freedom all have a say in today’s version
of modern times. A revolutionary expansion of boundaries and possibilities, identity-wise, career
path-wise. The course of human history invites change and innovation – and we welcome them.
The once omnipotent vertical corporate ladder slowly fades away as new, meandering models
benevolently usurp the power throne. Could it be a mistake? Will we regret it? It is in our nature
to resist change. To tread carefully and offer our sincerest skepticism. And we should allow it.
The truth is, the simple equation of living has progressed into a refined and complex
mathematical dilemma. The days of college, followed by marriage, followed by hard work =
promotion are long gone. It’s safe to say careers are not linear but a labyrinth.

The job market is changing

The rule of “traditional hires” is no more. Companies that exclusively rely on “the right” degree (undergraduate or graduate) when hiring, often end up empty-handed. Stalemate. For both employers and potential employees. Why is it so? We can no longer afford to live in a world where we stay in the same job throughout our professional life. Times have, indeed, changed, and in favor of the non-traditional candidate. Self-taught individuals who have earned alternative credentials make an appealing, well-rounded, competent pool for hire. The average millennial (91%) will expect to change jobs every three years, while gen Z professionals average around eight months. Is it ludicrous, or are the younger generations on to something?

young professional sitting at a coffee shop with a laptop and a phone

The age of the “episodic career”

Many young adults choose the non-linear career path, despite their traditional upbringing. Gen Z will soon overtake Millennials as the most populous workforce. Their superpower? Gen Z individuals understand the job market curve and are actually good at predicting it. Adapting is everything. The simple truth is this: the job market is ever-changing. The jobs we have now may not exist in 10 years; they are labeled “OBSOLETE” and then sealed. Case closed. Similarly, the jobs we will have in 15-20 years do not exist right now. Gen Z’s unique view of their future makes way for multifaceted career paths. Fast lane to self-exploration.

Technology impact

Many people find themselves embracing the non-linear trajectory. Turbulent times call for innovative measures. Dissatisfaction, stagnation, and the weight of the routine seem to be tightening the noose. Venturing into new job fields can be the perfect remedy. Then there’s impending automation. AI (artificial intelligence) threatens the skillful hands and brilliant minds of millions. Technological innovations soon to be implemented will replace around 85 million human jobs by the end of 2025. The antidote news: global technological improvement will, in return, create about 100 million job openings – but with novelty responsibilities. Changing course to non-linear seems to be the best response to a fluctuating job market. To avoid becoming obsolete, many decide to relocate. Upside? Meeting new people and ceating new possibilities. The opportunity to make new connections can further lead to a more fulfilling job position.

white robot holding black tablet depicts how career paths are not linear

Benefits of non-linear paths

The tide is turning. Employers are starting to recognize the benefits of diverse work histories in
potential employees. In fancy Latin terms, a rigid professional is a persona non grata
(unwelcome person). Shapeshifter’s status: wanted. The ever-evolving job market is looking for
individuals capable of adapting to various work scenarios, and hiring managers know what to
look for when interviewing candidates. This much we know to be true: vertical corporate ladder
mentality is not on the virtue list. Due to tectonic-scale changes in work evolution, a candidate’s
non-linear work history is no longer frowned upon. Organizational needs require recalibrating,
reskilling, and relearning. The most sought-after virtue? Adaptability.

Non-linear paths are of breathable material

Careers are not linear. The vertical ladder has officially been replaced with a grid model, and much like the universe, its nature is one of continuous expansion. The grid, unlike the ladder, heavily relies on unconditional collaboration. But how? Freed from the shackles of a vertical hierarchy, the new model is all about team-based project work, community, and equal participation. Down with the food chain philosophy, yes to the grand scheme of team collaboration. Non-linear paths foster agility and professional growth. Also, virtual workplaces. According to moving specialists from, there’s been a noticeable increase in home office boxes on their clients’ lists. Technology, along with pandemic residue, is changing the long game. Not only are we contributing to a greener environment, but we also get to indulge in our non-9-5-stay-at-home-can’t-wash-my-hair persona. Virtual workplaces are a thing of wonder; they bypass geographic coordinates, hierarchy, and awkward lunch break small talks.

a man sitting with a laptop looking out the window

Think before you act

The non-linear path is not for everyone. And it’s perfectly okay. Before we reach our final decision (if there is one?) on whether bifurcating our career is sensible or not, it’s essential to take two—the reflection hour. Developing an awareness of our professional wants and needs is key to successfully determining our career course. Factors like past work experiences, personal interests, professional goals, and, most importantly, our strengths can narrow the pool of innumerable routes to fulfillment. Start a lengthy monologue; ask questions. What have I learned so far? What hasn’t worked for me in my previous work endeavors? Assessing and reassessing; over and over again. Until you find all the answers. For gen Z, purpose-driven work is imperative. What’s yours?


Search for the invisible thread. “One thread to connect them all.” To an untrained eye, your
resume may appear narativeless (yes, the word is nonexistent). But, look closely. Find the
common denominator. From hotdog stand to corporate law intern, there must be a connection.

Are you good at resolving conflict? Finding solutions? Logistics? Empathy? Your “ikebana”
resume will provide answers, no matter how intricately unrelated your job experiences are.
Careers are not linear. Find your non-linear thread. It’s there.
If you want to learn more about how to maximize your career potential, visit, the
free go-to source for career exploration of the web.

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