For years it has been assumed that the traditional career progresses in two dimensions. On the one hand, there is the vertical career, the goal of which is a hierarchical climb with ever-increasing managerial responsibility. On the other hand, a horizontal career involves rather a professional specialisation. However, in today’s VUCA world characterised by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, a career is more like a river with bends and rapids. As such, a high degree of adaptability is necessary in order to continuously adjust to new requirements. It even goes so far that unique offers are considered although they do not fit into the supposed career plan, and there are situations in which an individual can create their own position.

No plan survives contact with reality. This fitting remark applies to careers, in particular. Career plans are, in principle, often nothing more than a theoretical vision. Yet, the future reality usually looks much different. Globalisation, digitalisation, career breaks, returns and transitions along with the rapidly evolving job market and economic cycles are only a few of the reasons for this. In our fast-paced world ruled by new technologies, it is important to be able to react flexibly and spontaneously. A career plan, therefore, must never be a rigid construct to be carried out in a linear fashion.

A more agile, fluid career plan, however, can be very helpful as it serves as a point of reference and guiding principle, but it should never be restrictive. It involves reflecting upon where one wants to be professionally in the next three to five years and how to get there. Individual skills and competencies as well as values and principles play a substantial role in this. Moreover, continuous development also within the framework of lifelong learning is of great significance. This yields tremendous clarity and allows one to assume control of one’s professional development along life’s journey.

This exciting ride, which can be individually shaped, should be enjoyed even with all the ups and downs. While finding one’s safeguards, discovering oneself and always staying flexible, we say it again: You never know how things will turn out.


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Executive School of Management, Technology and Law


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