Career management in the future of work: bridges rather than paths

The future of work is a rather general notion. But for a given person, the future of work is also the future of his job, knowing what he will do tomorrow or the day after tomorrow.

When the future of work in general meets the future of an individual’s job, the notion of career management arises.

As usual, we will explore this in terms of the forces currently shaping the future of work.

The pandemic

Once the health aspect has been completely closed and the economy has not fared so badly (even though it has been heading straight for another crisis), what will perhaps be most visible as a remnant of the pandemic is the turn taken by certain professional trajectories.

There were those who decided to totally change their job. Sometimes by resigning, sometimes even within their current company.

And then there were new, temporary or provisional needs in the businesses, when some had to pivot their activity to continue to exist during or after the crisis.

People have sometimes had to fill gaps in the organization and do another job and sometimes this has made them want to continue.

In any case, even if its impact was sometimes indirect, the crisis brought to the forefront the subject of life changes and therefore job changes, whether this corresponds to the employee’s aspiration or to the business’s needs.

When this can only be done outside the business, it must be accepted. When it can be done internally, the business must be able to anticipate it and make it possible, not only to avoid losing talent, but also because accompanying these changes is vital for it to meet its own needs.


No impact on the subject but on closer inspection there are still some weak signals to consider.

I have examples of people who, before, during, or after the crisis, wanted to learn something radically new with the desire to change jobs.

Their employers only thought of training as an extension of their current job and not from the point of view of teaching their employees to do a radically new job, so they did it on their own. Some with MOOCs, some even with Youtube tutorials to learn something more technical or manual…

In the end, sometimes it paid off, sometimes less so, but something happened and doors opened. Some left their business to join another, even if it meant starting from scratch, and are now living a new life.

Their feedback? That it was a shame to have to leave a business they were happy with simply because they wanted to change professions, even though it was recruiting junior staff for the job they wanted to do.

A verbatim? “I wanted to leave the HR function to become a salesperson. We were recruiting junior sales people and training them, but since I was in HR I was only allowed to progress in the HR track.


Without impact even if in some cases it plays an indirect role: it is the perspectives that it opens that gives ideas to some.

The evolution of society and economy

Here we are at the heart of the matter.

For more than 10 years, I’ve been hearing that 80% of the jobs we’ll be doing in the very near future don’t exist today. And I think this is true except for one detail.

According to the fashions, we see the appearance of new jobs that are only an old job that has been rebranded to make it more attractive.

For the rest it is a reality. Not only are new jobs appearing, but old ones are disappearing. Knowing that the pool of talent outside the company is not infinite and that, in any case, when it comes to new jobs, there are often not yet many dedicated training programs, training employees to learn this new job can be an interesting gamble.

What is changing and will become more pronounced over time is that what used to be an exception will become a norm on a large scale, and businesses that might have thought of it as an inconvenience that they could manage through input/output will have to see it as an opportunity to be addressed through internal curricula.

The transformation of service activities and knowledge work

No connection with the subject, we are not talking about the organization and content of work but about a more macro level.

Bottom line: bridges rather than paths

When we talk about career, we are most often talking about progressing in a profession, on a track. A “vertical” development of skills plus managerial skills that allow you to move up vertically in the hierarchy.

Moving from HR to sales? From finance to cybersecurity? From IT to HR? No way. Bridges don’t exist, no one thinks to go and find someone in one job and suggest that they go and do another one that is totally different but for which they have skills.

Yet this need is going to be more and more vital.

When considering the key competencies of a given new profession, one may realize that they exist elsewhere, in other professions that may have nothing to do with it. Is it surprising to see a financier succeed in cyber security or as a data analyst? Maybe not.

At the risk of being a bit off topic (but not that much), I would like to remind you that one of the people who was the driving force behind the transformation of internal communication in France was Pierre Labasse, director of internal communication at Danone (at the time of Antoine Riboud, about whom he wrote a book that I recommend to everyone). And Pierre Labasse was… an historian. What recruiter today would find it natural to go recruit his Communication director among historians? Not many, I think, and yet there must be skills related to Labasse’s training and not only to his person that made him an excellent pick.

It is therefore necessary to think horizontally and not only vertically.

The idea is therefore to build bridges between professions, to identify the necessary skills, to take the people who have some of them and teach them what they lack. At least it’ s not a blank slate.

But to achieve this, it is still necessary to have a precise idea of the skills needed at a given place, of those that are expected to be found elsewhere (linked to the job), of those that exist in a given individual because of his background, and to be able to very quickly help the individuals concerned to acquire the skills they lack.

It is therefore necessary to be able to identify needs and weak signals at a very early stage.

This will require the construction of highly granular and modular training programs that can be quickly implemented.

It finally means assuming that to advance in one’s career “going up” should no longer be the only option for an employee. Going elsewhere must be at least as important.

This will require, above all, daring to go off the beaten track.

Obviousness? Common sense? When we see that the machine for promoting managers continues to favor people who excel in the field and who have no managerial fiber, we think that the day when we will take HR to make them data specialists has not arrived.

It’s not a question of talent, just open-mindedness.

In any case, the stakes are high: if businesses are not able to deal with this internally, the entry/exit costs will be considerable, not to mention the fact that there is no guarantee that they will not find themselves in a talent shortage due to limited markets. If you only look at the progression within a business, within a vertical, employees and businesses will both lose.

If you are interested in the subject you can also read this short report by Josh Bersin. He doesn’t just talk about this but does it in a perhaps more accomplished way.

1Forces shaping the future of work in 2022
2The future of work is about…work and its future
3The future of work is not a promise or a dream
4The future of work is not a place or a time of day
5Future of pay and compensation: speaking the same language, paying in real time, making sense.
6The future of work: simple by nature, simple by obligation(coming soon)
7The future of work only the result is watched
8The future of work will rely on data and continuous improvement
9The future of work will be “agile by design”
10Management in the future of work: digital leadership and systemic approach to management
11In the future of work, engagement is measured in relation to the work, not the companny or the people
12Career management in the future of work: the art of adapting to the unpredictable
13In the future of work the employee experience is a background task, not a program
14The future of “care” at work: useful and productive
15The work of the future will be designed for humans
16The work of the future will be designed according to the “job to be done”
17The future of work will be automated with relevance
18In the future of work the mental load is the new workload
19The social link in the future of work: weaker, stronger
20The future of work will be digitally responsible
21But who is in charge of the future of work?

Image : career management de Olivier Le Moal via Shutterstock

Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

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