jungle-gymKellyMitchell CEO, Cassandra Sanford, put it aptly:

“Career paths are more like jungle gyms today rather than ladders.”

Ladders are great. There’s nowhere to go but up, and you don’t need much direction in taking your next step.

Ladders are linear.  In the past, you may have started in an entry level position with a single employer, and climbed your way, rung by rung, to the top.

Jungle Gyms allow for lateral movement.  Today, professionals rarely stay with the same organization long enough to complete a ladder-worthy climb.  More people are moving sideways into different roles, trying out new skillsets, diving into other industries, and even striking out on their own as freelancers and contractors.

There is a new sense of transparency that did not exist in the past.  Organizations are more open to providing looks behind-the-scenes, while those organizations who resist transparency are often ousted by their own employees through social media.

Knowledge is shared easily on the web through both documentation and discussion, while the social media sphere gives experts an opportunity to validate the best resources with their comments, likes, and shares.

Even courses traditionally taught in a university setting are being offered to the masses online – through large MOOCs (massive online open courses) and smaller, niche classes.

The age of transparency has made it much less difficult to move out of your silo of a single role, organization, or even industry.  Professionals are no longer siphoned to the top.  They have a wide range of movement to explore their strengths and go down paths they never anticipated.

While climbing the corporate ladder is challenging in its own way, coping with a jungle gym career requires a different set of skills:

Be ready to stretch yourself.

The next foothold on your career path may be a bit of a stretch.  So stay pliable.  Soak up new skills and adapt to lasting trends to remain employable.

Get comfortable with relying on others.

Unlike ladders, jungle gyms aren’t meant to be climbed on alone.  They’re meant to support multiple climbers at once – climbers who are constantly getting feedback from their playmates.

 Hey, how did you climb over there?

 Why’s everyone on that side?

 Has anyone tried to reach that?

You aren’t on this career jungle gym alone.  Shout out to your network to gather the information you need to formulate your next move.  A lot of people are willing to lend a hand and give you a boost in the direction you want to go next.


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