The Rise of the Career Chameleon

Our guest blogger, Louise Dunne, shares her experience of being a ‘career chameleon’ in these unprecedented times, which many of us can relate to.

In terms of career expectations and priorities, the biggest generational shift between our parents and our peer group has been the rapid decline of employees idealising the job for life. 

Way back when, university career advisors warned that job-hopping and gaps on a CV suggest a lack of reliability. So, the best jobs for those fresh to the jobs market were highly coveted graduate scheme’s seen as a foot in the door to a long and prosperous committed career. 

This is starkly at odds with 2020’s workers who are prioritising work from home flexibility over salary. Stability is no longer a given against the backdrop of evolving company needs, economic fluctuations and, without wanting to mention the C word, unprecedented global events! 

Career development is now more important than company loyalty, with almost half of our working millennials envisaging that they will be at a new company within 2 years, so we can expect the average number of roles, titles and companies listed on our CV to increase dramatically in the years to come. 

What’s in a name? 

While there is great freedom and flexibility in moving to new opportunities throughout our careers, navigating titles and job descriptions can be a minefield. Company expectations can vary greatly between years’ experience for a given role, salaries can differ by as much as 20% for similar titles, and on-the-job tasks called out in job descriptions can sound like a career 180 rather than a lateral move. 

Transferrable skills across technical, strategic and client facing roles in the technology space have led to career mobility of a new kind – the rise of the career chameleon. Rather than jumping around from job to job, each position, project and tweaked job title is a stepping-stone to the next opportunity and another string to your bow. 

How did we get here? 

Back in 2013 I moved from Perth, Western Australia, where I held a social media and  communications role and took a job with the Digital team at PR agency Edelman in London. 

I was assigned a free desk. The last person to sit there was Emma Gannon, who went on to be a columnist in national newspapers and magazines, guest lecturer, podcast host and author of the Multi-Hyphen Method, a book that celebrates those pursuing side hustles, entrepreneurial spirit and taking steps to define your own career. We’ve never met, but her creative career path has been impossible to miss. 

Safe to say my career path since Edelman couldn’t be more different to Emma’s, but it’s been evolutionary and ‘multi-hyphen’ none the less! 

What’s next? 

After two years in a Solutions Consultant role, one in Sales Enablement and two more in Product Marketing I now find myself with a new career opportunity – figuring out what’s next. I’m job hunting in summer 2020 amidst lockdown, hiring freezes and, sadly, team restructuring and layoffs. 

Will my complementary experience across various departments in a SaaS business be seen as a help or a hinderance in the hiring process? I see Product Marketing Manager roles that couldn’t be less of a fit and other newly created roles that match nothing on my CV where I tick a lot of the boxes.

I am keeping faith that there’s a company out there who can benefit from a candidate who has a rounded experience and brings fresh perspective from a road less travelled. 

Job interviews are about showing what you can bring to the role, and in each of my past positions, I have learned about the company, customers and the industry, picking up best practice from my peers, leaders and professional bodies.

I’m proud to be a career chameleon and have a great story to tell about the exciting steps along the way that took me from an intern at a Dublin PR agency to London-based technology roles. Here’s to the next chapter, even if I don’t know what the next update to my LinkedIn profile might say. 

You never know what a hiring manager is looking for that will make you stand out from the crowd and as companies grow and evolve their requirements will too, so that early career job you edited out from your CV might be more relevant than you think. Far from seeing an eclectic career path from PR to SaaS, a recruiter I spoke to said I had a diverse mix of highly marketable skills and encouraged me to highlight my older experience in content, creative and agency.

You might not think that first job you put on LinkedIn is relevant for a mid-level job application but every task, project and result has cumulated to put you where you are today. It’s your experience, your professional development – be proud of it! 

Louise is a London based Product Marketing Manager and Sales Enablement professional with experience in B2C SaaS in eCommerce and Social Media Management. While content development, collaboration with key stakeholders and creative problem solving keep her busy during her work day, in her free time she works on her kayaking technique, improving her conversational Spanish and blogs about London’s wine scene as Wine Tasting Louise

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