Word of the Day: Pick & Mix Career
Updated: Mar 14
Cute, huh? I made it up. I originally thought of writing about “portfolio careers”. A portfolio career refers more to having a number of roles that make up your total income, with some usually being part-time or casual such as board positions, freelancing, short-term contracts etc. But it’s not quite what I mean.
Other terms I threw around:
- Multi-loyal employees - but this is more than just about company loyalty.
- Fit-for-purpose career - but it sounded like a reliable SUV.
- A promiscuous career - while provocative, feels like something you’d just stumble into.
- Career chameleon - fits better with personality & communication.
- Career agnostic - not the religious definition, the IT definition, where you’re interchangeable amongst different platforms.
But I decided that Pick & Mix was by the far the cutest of the lot. It's how most people now experience their careers, so let's explore it & what it will mean for you.
What is a Pick & Mix Career?
Pick & Mix is freedom. As long as you learn to embrace it. It's going to happen whether you like it or not, because it's the way industry & employment is headed across the board.
Back in the day, it was a job for life. Career changes were few & far between for most people, and often meant a lot of study, a lot of upskilling, & a bit of sacrifice & risk.
Now though - career changes are normal & actually preferable as hiring managers & recruiters increasingly look for multi-skilled talent with the attitude & motivation to straddle job roles & responsibilities or chart into new territories. Our careers can now more easily be like a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure novel, fluidly taking & moving skills, experiences & opportunities from one industry/organisation/specialty, into another. And doing this not once or twice, but multiple times throughout your career.
3 things driving it
Companies are trying to do more with fewer resources. And with people considered a resource (ain't called HR for nothing!), one way of doing this is to hire talent who have a broad range of skills & experiences to do a number of varying responsibilities in 1 role. It's like buying 12 different ingredients that cost $25 dollars versus buying pre-prepared takeaway for $10 - you are now chicken laksa. As a Change Manager, I'm a perfect example - I have both a delivery focus & people focus; I straddle comms, training, events & project planning, implementation & evaluation. I strategise, manage & execute. And sometimes step in to do the work of a BA, Process Analyst, or Project Manager. My role is the amalgamation of my past 5 years’ of account management, marketing campaigns, process re-engineering, projects, coaching, & presenting. Nowadays, many graduates won’t work in the industry of their degree - I studied media but the job security, editorial challenges & low starting salaries had me heading to something more commercial & I now work in IT!
2. Millennials & our love of variety:
Let's face it, we get bored! The thought of being in a role for 2 years is passable, as long as there's growth, development & opportunities to dive into new projects, skills & experiences along the way.
3. Temporary work:
Organisations are driving us to it - roles usually as permanent positions are now simply offered as a time-bound contract, with secondments, projects, flexible working, & reactive budgets impacting hiring managers' abilities to offer permanence & stability. Fixed term contracts of 6-12 months in place of a permanent role are a dime a dozen now, & contract/project work is ever-increasing as companies dabble in different initiatives throughout the year to get the leading edge.
So what do you do?
Learn to love it, baby! There’s a reason I chose “Pick & Mix” to describe it - you are in the driver’s seat. You get to make the decisions about what you do with your transferable skills. You get to choose:
what company you work for
what industry you work in
what pay rise you’ll get
what type of work you’ll do
& every pivot you make enriches your CV & your mind with variety, growth & breadth. Enjoy being a Jack of All Trades & Master of Many! Because it’s lucrative too:
“Today’s young graduates are missing out on significant pay rises. The typical annual pay rise for someone changing jobs but remaining in their existing region is over five times higher than that achieved by someone who remains with the same employer.” [portfoliocareers.net]
I’ve worked in products… & services. In small businesses… & large multinationals. In FMCG, Financial Services & Government. Across Marketing, Sales, Business Projects, & IT. And gone from a $60k salary to $180k equivalency in 3 years, & earning 5x more than I did when I first graduated.
The thing holding you back from taking full advantage of the Pick & Mix Career on offer is your own fears & beliefs. Change those - change your life.
Lata Hamilton is the Founder & CEO of Passion Pioneers, an Executive Coach and Change Leadership Trainer. Sign up to her Change Inspiration mailing list here to get weekly goodies such as articles, templates, tools, videos and upcoming courses direct to your inbox.