Back in the industrial age, a career meant working for the same company and climbing the corporate ladder inside that company. After 50 years you were rewarded with a gold watch and retirement.
Not so any longer.
People jobhop from position to position in different companies. It’s more accurate to say that an individual works for a market or a cluster of companies (like “PR agencys” or “startups” or “the telecom industry”) than one particular organization.
It is still a fairly linear progression between jobs, though. Even for a jobhopper a career has a direction – upwards (in some sense of the word). You can call this the ladder strategy for a career. You stand on one level of the ladder for a while, then you move up to the next level.
But there is a different strategy or at least a different point of view you can use for your career: the opportunity cloud.
Yepp, that’s right. That’s the name of this blog. Let me explain…
Your opportunity cloud is the sum total of all the positive things that can happen to you at one particular moment. It is what happens when you position yourself to be in a spot where good things happen. For example, exposing your skills on a blog, going to a mingle party, connecting with the right people on social networks, moving to a larger city, becoming good at pitching yourself or your product etc.
Call it accumulation of opportunity capital that may or may not be turned in to real money.
If you’re working as a free agent, your opportunity cloud is probably your most valuable asset. You need to nurture and grow it constantly.
As opposed to the career ladder, it is unpredictable, almost chaotic. Some people even call it “luck” but that’s almost never the case. That investor calling you because 6 months earlier you met her husband at a party – that’s not luck. That consultant work that suddenly pops up in your inbox because someone googled for “elite java skills” and found your blog – that’s not luck.
There are tools that help you manage your cloud (contact/CRM systems, todo-lists etc.) but the fact remains that it is a much more chaotic existence than the more linear and stable employment.
On the other hand, it’s slightly more difficult to “move up”. It is, by it’s nature, unpredictable. Some people – no, most people – can’t handle it. They rather have the fixed income and stable environment that comes with an employment. Even if that means killing off most of the opportunities in your cloud. Actually – most people doesn’t even realize they have an opportunity cloud. They simply don’t see it.
It is, as I mentioned, more a different point of view than a strategy.
So, where am I going with this? Only that you should know that you have a choice and that you might even switch between the two mindsets in different phases of your career.
I also want more people to see the cloud they have around them. You can of course start growing it while you’re employed. See the cloud, build it. Don’t get stuck standing on a ladder.