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The Portable Career

November 14, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

In 1994 I was a front-line supervisor for an up and coming biotech firm. I led a crew of 14 people on a rotating 12 hour shift. It was one of the best jobs I’ve ever worked. When our flagship product failed to hit clinical endpoints the stock tanked and we were swallowed in an acquisition. We learned that only a handful of the team would be offered positions in the new company. For the next month I spent most of my days counseling the team about their future. I told my team that the new owners could take their job away, but nobody could take their experience or their knowledge. I encouraged the team to leverage these assets into their next career opportunity. That counsel was the genesis of what I call “The Portable Career”.



The things that matter most in your career are portable. Portable assets carry forward to your next job; they’re not lost in a job transition. Knowledge and experience are good examples of portable career assets. Other career assets are portable too: your professional network, your salary history, your work ethic, your creativity, your reputation. These don’t get left behind in a job transition, and because they don’t get left behind they have a remarkable intrinsic value to you and to your next company.  Your job is to understand portability and leverage all your portable assets throughout your career.

The original “portable careerists” from the class of ’94 were all working again within 6 weeks. Some are retired, and some I lost touch with. But from that original cohort we now have two MDs, three PhDs, one corporate vice president, two business owners, and one wildly successful venture capitalist.

Do you have portable career story? I’d love to hear it!

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