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A generation ago, if you felt restless in your job and weren’t sure what to do next, you could ask your boss or friends for advice — or you could visit the local fortune-teller. Now however, an intriguing new LinkedIn tool provides some pretty good guesses about what you’ll do next.
LinkedIn’s data-visualization team has created a giant sphere that’s speckled with nearly 300 types of jobs, ranging from actors to firefighters, insurance agents and Oracle database administrators. Click on any one of those categories — and an animated version of connect-the-dots will spring forth, showing you the most common career moves of people in those fields. This link will let you test the system yourself.
To create these forecasts, LinkedIn research consultant Sohan Murthy explained in a blog post, the company’s data scientists culled through the career histories of more than 300 million people with LinkedIn profiles. Researchers focused on cases where people switched to at least a slightly different category, instead of simply moving up the ladder in their chosen specialty. LinkedIn’s analysts also discarded cases involving people who had switched careers multiple times, or whose current careers straddle multiple categories.
Many of the career paths are exactly what you’d expect. Financial consultants tend to become accountants and data analysts. Psychologists end up as social workers or university professors. And when today’s job becomes unbearable, just about everybody is willing to give sales a try.
But in an intriguing number of cases, LinkedIn’s mapping system unearthed job hops that are far from obvious. Among them:
- Soldiers and military officers, when they transition to civilian life, may pick new jobs as diverse as corporate strategists, business owners or police officers.
- Geologists sometimes end up as information-technology support specialists or environmental specialists.
- Pharmacists cross over to the other side of the counter and become medical representatives.
- People who start out as political staffers can end up as everything from lawyers and judges to public-relations offices.
Another oddity: fields that offer very little mobility. As LinkedIn’s Murthy points out, people who become web developers, paralegals or physicians have hardly any common career options beyond staying in their current field. Bad news? Not necessarily.
In Murthy’s words, “this is a classic sign of specialization,” and that’s nothing to weep about. If demand for these skills stays strong, and the work is enjoyable, people in such aspects of law, tech and health care may never feel the urge to switch.