Career Trajectory: Plotting Your Professional Path


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Trajectories may seem like a complicated math concept that most of us avoid during high school. However, when we speak of it in matters of career, it will be one of the most interesting topics. Why? It involves your plans and your dreams. It tells where you are heading to. It’s your life plan. A normal career trajectory is taking on a bell shape, well, not unless you would like to aim for the unusual successes like Bill Gates and Larry Page, then you will take the bell-shaped graph.

Basically, the horizontal axis of your graph will correspond the time you spent for each stage (which will be explained later) and the vertical axis will correlate however you want to measure your success – probably based on the compensation, position in the hierarchy, awards, and many other factors you may please. Being on track with the path you choose for yourself will make you choose wiser decisions for your job.

Furthermore, here we spill the different stages of an average Joe’s career trajectory:

1. Starting Up

This is when Joe begins to learn about the particular work environment he will be stuck with for the next few years. Exploring the job is a very integral part of the stage because this is the time that Joe is deciding whether it is the profession he would be glad sporting for the rest of his productive adult life.

Starting up is a crucial stage just like childhood. It is the best time to store most of the knowledge and concepts in the work. And as a start-up, Joe may find everything exciting and will have a quick progress on his performances. However, this progress will not reflect on the trajectory since his y-axis probably does not include performance as a factor. On the next stage, maybe.

2. Establishment

Ideally, this is when Joe is already accustomed to the ways of the profession, and he can probably manage a few beginners who are just starting up. The establishment is the stage when he will feel the burden of responsibilities in the company, work gets more demanding, and his commitment will likely pay off through a promotion or salary raise. The career trajectory will shoot up very fast, and people will start to take notice of Joe’s performance.

3. Mid-Career Crisis

This is the age of comparison. During this stage, Joe reflects on the past decisions he made and re-assesses them. He will probably compare his achievements with friends and family and will bother too much over what he has lost over time (especially his health). You got the idea: it could be a very problematic stage.

Though Joe is still on the peak of his occupation, he is starting to plan his retirement and life after work. He has tendencies of being a flashpacker and is now more willing to take risks.

4. Aging

Here’s the age to focus on family and grandchildren, though Joe may still be working on full time or part-time. At this point, Joe is seriously considering whether to retire now or sometime later. He may not show the same activeness as when he is during the earlier stage, but he’s already at peace with his job and ready to pass the responsibility to a younger generation.

5. Declination

Declination is a period where Joe finally retires and never gets back to the old job. No, not even attend seminars or be a consultant. Professional activity is no more and the career trajectory is on a steady horizontal line.

Photo by Isaque Pereira from Pexels

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