Career Trajectory

Careers have momentum and direction. We call this Career Trajectory. After launch, the goal is to break free of the atmosphere where there is no friction. You all know someone in your field that has enough career equity that they can get a job anytime and anywhere.

There are different stages of a career which can be plotted over time. Each stage has different risk factors and variables associated with the job search and the evaluation process. It is a viable approach for any career, but our specific focus is the goal of working for emerging technology companies and start ups. The missile launch analogy being that in the early stage you can effect the outcome much more than in the latter stages. At one point there is a critical window of opportunity to reach beyond the pull of gravity and have the best and most sought after companies seeking your employment. Once that window has passed, the probability of correcting course towards the higher goal is limited.

For example, experience has shown us that between 8 to 12 years is the “career defining” phase. Whatever you are doing at the end of this stage will probably be what you will continue to do. In other words, if you work at big fortune 100 software company and after 15 years decide to move to a start up, the probability is low that you can successfully make the transition. The risk may be too high for the company building their core team. Some reasonable questions from the hiring company would be, why haven’t you worked in a start up before?..can you thrive in a less structured environment, and so on. The point is not that senior people cannot change, it is that making a hire at $80K has less impact than the riskier $ 120K mistake. Also, making a drastic change of working for a start up is much harder once life has given you a big mortgage, college tuition savings and the other things that constrain life decisions.

So, be aware of the fact that significant change to keep your career on the right path is more easily made early on and that once the rocket is well on it’s way to Pluto you cannot easily turn it 180 degrees towards another destination.

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