The Traditional Career Path Will Disappear

In the July/August print publication Journal of Corporate Recruiting Leadership, I’m spelling out my “10 predictions for the coming year.”

If you’re a recruiting leader who subscribes, you’ll get those 10 in the postal mail. For now, here’s one: the traditional career path and all its assumptions (such as that the MBA is the ticket to success, and it’s the only path to the top) will be gone.

We’re already seeing signs that many long-held assumptions about what success looks like are now open to interpretation. Forced to get creative, companies are now reviewing the long-term effects of traditional staffing models. Buying talent from competitors fills jobs quickly, but those people don’t always stay. Fighting for a top MBA grad at the best school may give your company bragging rights, but does the expense associated with managing them (and their expectations) yield a good return on the investment?

While some managers used to be convinced that there was no talent within their own companies, many are now taking a closer look at internal candidates when filling key jobs. Career paths are now often about moving sideways, not always up. As each and every hiring decision is placed under greater scrutiny, hiring managers will become more flexible in finding ways to get work done.

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What would once have been an open job that would have involved an in-person pitch from a retained search firm, a parade of candidates, a consensus-driven decision, a nasty attempt to address a counteroffer, and an expensive relocation, might now simply involve a qualified long-term employee working remotely.

Faced with the reality that their jobs might be eliminated despite good performance, employees will be more open to lateral moves and developmental assignments. And companies, desperate to fill key roles, will be willing to give them those opportunities.

He started his career as a research chemist in the laboratory. Now, Michael Kannisto has tried to apply a similarly disciplined and science-based approach to the fields of recruiting and talent management. His long-term interests include employment branding, multiple generations in the workforce, and using Six-Sigma methodology to improve recruitment outcomes.

His current passion is the development and use of mathematical models to predict future staffing and development needs (a remarkably more accurate form of “workforce planning” than what is traditionally employed). Call it predictive modeling, call it “big data” ... but the information sitting in your HRMS right now has the potential to change the way you think about talent forever.


7 Comments on “The Traditional Career Path Will Disappear

  1. Mike,
    Completely agree with you and it’s about time! Once reserved for GE, IBM and some big banks, recognizing the human capital you already have and deploying them internally is a very hot subject these days.
    What’s needed is a much more scientific way of assessing skills and gaps, filling them and then deploying developed talent internally. Today, much if it is done via “manager recommendation” which is nothing more than cronyism and the good old boy network. Companies who apply a strategic, technical way of identifying internal talent, developing it and moving it will end up with a much more engaged workforce when the recession halts and recruiting (i.e., attrition) begins.

  2. The “traditional” career path has been gone for years. Ever since companies decided that employees are a commodity and loyalty was rewarded with pink slips individuals have had to look out for themselves. They don’t consider any career path a “given”, even when they are a top performer.

    This recession has really driven home how insignificant the employees are – even managerial employees. The upper management ranks (C level) view anyone and everyone under them as disposable.

    Very few companies recognize that performance driven career oriented employees will leave at their first chance once the recession is over because their loyalty has been rewarded with extended hours, hiring freezes that leave critical positons unfilled, lack of communication from upper management, etc. ad nauseum.

    In my opinion, the “employment ogry” isn’t over as Brian thinks – it’s just been put on hold (like thousands of job requisitions) and will begin in earnest again before we know it. Every recession brings the same bold news of how things will change – it doesn’t! The talent shortage is still looming – over 70 million boomers will leave the marketplace – and we are not training and preparing our youth.

  3. Jim- I appreciate your comments, however I LOVE my job/caeer, I LOVE my company, I LOVE my life, and every single top performer I know on the globe (A players) Has a Job/Owns Company and they are “THRIVING” at present time, OR they were/are downsized and have/had 2/3 irons in the fire and/or offers, and will be employed sooner than later.

    Blaming the company, who pays salaries, pays medical, pays taxes, etc. etc. to be honest is untrue and a cynical disposition.

    There are GREAT Employees/Employers and there are CRAP Employees/Employers.

    We need people to follow there PASSIONS in life, take care of there neighbors in need, and stop complaining….

    In my view this downturn is different and playing field has changed forever..

    Best intentions,

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