Career Tapestry

By: Marti Benjamin, MBA

Professional Certified Coach | Certified Career Management Coach

Champion for a Great Work-Life!

               The concept of a career ladder has been around for decades, but it’s becoming increasingly irrelevant.

Career paths are no longer an orderly, straight forward progression, with a supervisor becoming a manager, then a director and next a vice-president. Today it’s often necessary—and even advantageous—to make lateral moves or take a step back, to close gaps in experience and knowledge needed for the ultimate career goal.

Nearly all occupational fields now require continuing education to keep up with the new technologies, techniques and practices. Those same changes have created new opportunities for work that’s innovative and exciting in fields that didn’t exist even a few years ago. For example, electrical engineers are in demand in the emerging green technology field; the foundation theories of electrical engineering still apply but in these new careers, specific knowledge is required.

Perhaps a more fitting career metaphor is a tapestry, rather than a ladder. In traditional tapestry weaving, there are two sets of interlaced threads, one woven parallel to the length (called the warp) and one woven parallel to the width (called the weft). The weaver holds tension on the warp thread as the weft thread is passed back and forth.

In a career management metaphor, the warp is your overall objective—the vision of your position at the pinnacle of your career. Hold attention on that vision: where do I intend to be in 5 years? 10 years? As with the tapestry weaver, every careerist must have a plan and lay the foundation for the end product.

The weft of career management—the threads interwoven through the vision—is your work experience, education, certifications, projects, independent learning, seminars, conferences, continuing education classes and every other learning opportunity imaginable. These threads are shorter than those of your vision and they add dimension and color. They’re easily changed if the tapestry (or your career design) isn’t turning out exactly as envisioned or if a better vision emerges.

The tapestry metaphor, as opposed to the ladder, demands greater flexibility and self-direction in career planning. But honestly—who wouldn’t prefer to look at a beautiful tapestry rather than a ladder?


Coaching Question: What new possibilities emerge when you view your career as a tapestry?


Marti Benjamin inspires great work-lives in her business and career coaching practice. In this, her third career devoted to the service to others, she applies the discipline of business while executing the mission of service. Since founding Business Energetix in 2004, Marti’s proprietary coaching systems have led fed-up professionals from frustration to a richly rewarding work-life.


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