This article will discuss why it is important to understand how chaos theory applies to careers. Also discussed in this article are misconceptions about chaos theory.
Merriam-Webster defines chaos as, “..complete confusion and disorder: a state in which behavior and events are not controlled by anything.” A better definition of chaos as it applies to careers would be that there is order in what happens. We just cannot always see this modern, complex, and ever changing order, especially if we have tunnel vision and if we expect the world always to progress in a linear fashion.
As an example, suppose that someone chooses a certain college major with the intent to prepare for a certain occupation . According to one study, college majors and eventual careers often do not match.
Many factors could account for such discrepancies. A recession, for example, could reduce the chances that most college graduates will obtain professional jobs requiring a college degree. Also, the demand for employees in specific occupations could decrease due to technological changes.
Changes in the lives of individuals also could affect their chances of being employed in occupations that they desire. After marriage, for example, those who move with their military spouses to different geographical areas might find that it is difficult for them to obtain their particular professional jobs in those geographical areas. Also, individuals often are poor judges of what will make them happy in a career, especially in the more distant future.
If choosing the right career is so difficult, what should careerists do? Should they passively wait for the right career to magically appear to them? This would be the exact opposite of tunnel vision.
Actually, those seeking career happiness must be very active, not with tunnel vision, but with an open, curious, and seeking mind. Volunteering in an organization that interests them can be helpful. They also can find jobs or important information by networking with careerists in clubs that interest them. Another good tactic is to conduct informational interviews with careerists who are in interesting jobs. Above all, careerists must become lifelong learners. Careerists can learn skills and knowledge that will be helpful in any career.
It is important for careerists to begin this active, ongoing, nonlinear, career exploration and learning early in their careers because it will become more difficult to make career changes late in their careers. Even first jobs are important. Also, salaries in past jobs will be used as benchmarks by employers to help to determine salaries that they will offer to job applicants.
It is important for careerists to review their past order of occupational experiences. Careerists should try to see patterns in past jobs and should think about what they liked and disliked about their past jobs. Also, because past occupational experiences will be important in determining qualifications for future jobs, surveying and thinking about past occupational experiences will help careerists to determine realistic positions to which they can aspire in the future.
Although past occupational experiences are important, there are ways to make major career shifts to dissimilar positions at even higher pay grades. Earning an MBA, for example, would expand the career horizons of many professionals in the area of management positions.
As Aaron Sorkin once said, “There (is) order and even great beauty in what looks like total chaos. If we look closely enough at the randomness around us, patterns will start to emerge.”