If everyone got a job & kept the same one forever, no one would work a job.
The whole benefit of a traditional career is to start at a company in an entry-level job and build your way up to fancier job titles with bigger salaries.
The allure of these shiny objects is what keeps people working hard.
HR departments all over the world rely on us to believe in this dream. They need us to think it’s possible and to give up other opportunities so we can build a career with them. This career dream has cracks in it.
We can’t all get promoted
For the job model to work it relies on a few heavy hitters getting the big job titles, salaries and bonuses, and everyone else to be a worker bee.
That’s the truth. Just like everyone can’t be a billionaire.
So what happens in most companies I’ve worked at and observed is that the idea of a career path is advertised. It’s spoken about a lot during job interviews and HR presentations.
But when you finally get a job and begin work, the career path is invisible.
Bosses rarely spend time in 1–1s talking about your career or how you can get a promotion. They need you to work hard so they can advance their own career. In many ways, you getting promoted or shifting roles, is bad for your boss. They lose you and have to find someone else.
So leaders are trained to shut up about career paths.
They speak about them if they have to. But they never give you enough detail to actually change careers or advance through the ranks. This is by design. It shouldn’t surprise any of you.
There’s another reason career paths don’t exist
Businesses only have so many resources.
They can invest in your career path or invest in revenue-generating activities. Sadly, many companies don’t realize a lack of career paths is causing their best workers to leave, which smashes down revenue.
In their defense, it’s not easy to have career paths at a company.
A career path isn’t a promise or guarantee. There are so many factors that go into giving someone a higher salary and a better job title. Maybe you tick all the boxes but just aren’t the right candidate.
Or maybe the current big knob in charge promotes one of his buddies instead. Or he hires someone external to get a fresh perspective.
Employees have little control over their career path.
That’s why it’s mostly left to luck, hope, and promises of those in charge to make it happen.
You can create your own damn career path
I got sick and tired of not having a career path.
I found a new way. I simply started prostituting myself out in the form of job interviews. I spoke to every company in my industry. I auctioned out my services to whoever would promote me and pay me more.
It worked like a treat. Every time I changed companies I got more of what I wanted. The free market is a beautiful thing. It can fix the unfairness caused by a lack of career growth inside a company.
A lack of career paths has created two bizarre realities
Over the last few years the phrases “making money online” “solopreneur” “one-person business” and “side hustle” have exploded in popularity.
The critics are mad at it. They call it hustle p*rn or a pyramid scheme.
What they miss is the underlying cause. People are secretly sick of a lack of career growth. These new terms are a rebellion.
Having a side hustle is saying “screw you, I’ll make enough money not to need you anymore.” Being a solopreneur is a nice way of saying “I’ll have more than one employer, thank you.”
It’s the same reason employees have become more disengaged, according to recent Gallup stats (9-year high), and transactional about their jobs. Young people see a job as a way to learn for free before leaving them behind to reach their full potential.
Rarely do we blossom in a job and become happy. No. The longer we work for a company the more overworked we become and the less growth in salary and bonuses we get.
The average person isn’t stupid. They’ve figured out the game. And they’re playing that game while creating new games.
When something in the world is unfair humans are damn good at realigning incentives in their favor.
Expect this to continue
Employers are unlikely to start creating clear career paths with real promises of what’s required to get them and any kind of guarantee.
So all you can do is either change companies frequently or start building your own online empire after hours.