The 12 Blogs of Christmas 2015 – #5

SarahOur third and final career themed post comes from the wonderful Sarah Miller, a lady I’m sadly yet to meet in real life but that serves her right for living in Singapore and now Australia!  Social media is something Sarah loves using and having a great time connecting with others online, especially HR people. She burst onto the social media scene as WhippersnapperHR a few years back but you can now find her on Twitter as the more sensible sounding @sarahmillerau – and she also uploads weekly vlogs to with a round up of HR in social media which are a must see.

The new rules of career advice

When I was finishing high school, I had a terrible time deciding on subjects, but even worse, deciding on a university course and career. I just couldn’t pick something because I wanted to be happy and desperately wanted financial security. Everything that would make me happy (artsy fartsy) seemed too much in a state of flux for achieving financial security. In the 10 or so years between primary school and finishing high school, the world changed at an incredible rate. Here’s a quick snapshot of what happened between 1997 and 2007:

1998: Google the company is founded (but let’s be real, I was still using Ask Jeeves)

1999: Australian mobile phones go from analog to digital

2000: Virgin Blue lands in Australia – the first low-cost carrier

2001: The iPod comes to play

2002: Wifi starts to spread

2003: Skype rings in

2004: Playschool airs a segment of about a little girl and her two mums

2005: Kyoto protocol goes into force

2006: Twitter is hatched

2007: The first iPhone explodes on the scene!

In each of these examples, it’s either disrupted an industry (Google says goodbye Yellow Pages), changed the way we work (hot desks and LGBTI acceptance), or made the world much smaller (hello cheap flights and skype). Now I think everyone can say that from their childhood to teen years there was significant improvement in technology and disruption to industries – but I honestly believe the rate of change we are seeing now is the fastest we’ve ever lived in, and it’s getting faster at exponential rates. I still find it hard to believe it hasn’t even been 10 years since the first iPhone!

In 2006 I was trying to choose a university course, and was keenly eyeing off communications. When I spoke to the university rep I really wanted to know ‘what job will this get me?’ and they honestly answered “we don’t know because we don’t know what will be out there when you finish your degree.” Well I took that as hopeless art school speak for ‘your degree will make you a qualified barista’ and chose to study HR instead. I don’t regret studying HR, but the university was so right about the fact that communications couldn’t steer me into a particular job or career – by the end of my degree in 2009, the internet was a whole new world of social media and pay-walled newspapers.


This is the world today’s youth are preparing for the future in – change is so profound, and our world is so interconnected and accessible, that nobody really knows what it will look like in 5 years, let alone 50 years. And for me, that raises some serious alarm bells for the career advice we are sharing with youth. I just don’t think they are being set up for success, because I highly doubt the people traditionally seen as career advice experts are aware of the new game rules.

Here’s what I think are the new rules of careers:

Exponential information: it’s no longer about knowing – it’s about accessing, synthesising, sharing and adapting with creativity.

Exponential change: strength is found in acknowledging fear of the unfamiliar and still operating with positive attitude, strong relationship building, and reputation management.

Exponential opportunity: also means exponential competition – find your advantages, collaborate away your weaknesses, and make impermanent masterpieces.

These rules change everything, because they take us away from building permanency. I was told the other day that culture means survival, and I think that is true for careers as well. Careers mean survival. And we used to look to the model of creating permanency as a wonderful way to ensure survival. But survival no longer means permanency – in fact, today’s survival means being so flexible and adaptive that it can weather whole industries and skill sets being made obsolete.


And that’s why I see a lot of the traditional advice being given today is like hunters giving survival advice to gatherers. It’s just not setting anyone up for success.

I don’t have all the answers but I do have a career that patched itself together by embracing these new rules. And so I think I’ve got some useful insights that I’d love to share through a YouTube series – it will be Whipper Snapper HR career advice for professionals in their first 10 years. It’s not going to be a resource for everyone, but I hope it can be a small contribution to someone out there being set up for survival in our new age of exponentials.  I also hope it starts a new conversation in the HR world about career advice and career paths, because we are key influencers in helping many to succeed. We need to be sharing our forest maps generously with those walking in the trees.

Happy holidays, and here’s to many happy, healthy careers guided by good advice.

Previous post – The 12 Blogs of Christmas 2015 #4


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