Could there be a Multipotentialite Career Revolution Brewing?
Photo courtesy of Annegien van Doorn.

Could there be a Multipotentialite Career Revolution Brewing?

Written by Bev Webb

Topics: Work

I love the idea of reclaiming normal conventions and flipping them to the multipotentialite advantage. Take the world of work for example, how could we adapt current work cultures to embrace the talents of pluralists?

Just because something is currently beyond the realms of the norm or the possible it doesn’t mean it will always be so. In this digital era, more than any other time in history, work practices and career options are evolving at an incredible pace.

Even 20 years ago few of us would have believed we would have computers in our homes and be spending a high proportion of our work time linked up to this thing called the internet.

Consider some of the career choices too that have only appeared in last 10 years or so: you can now be an internet entrepreneur, digital nomad, self-published author, or an independent musician without the need for a record company contract.

Gone are many of the conventions which our parents and grandparents had grown up with, like the “job for life.” Most of us will change career at least once, if not considerably more, in our working lives.

Could these more frequent changes of career among the mainstream population, herald the increased acceptance of the multipotentialite plural-career? It’s becoming more and more usual for people to retrain, and take the leap from one industry to another.

Just as the growth of manufacturing led to the industrial revolution in the later part of the 18th century, could the rise of the megabyte lead to another full-blown revolution, rather than just a temporary adjustment to working patterns?

Emilie’s discussion about how parents can nurture their children’s multipotentiality, is a conversation we wouldn’t have had even a few years ago. Back then, we probably wouldn’t have recognized it was a realistic option to build a life and career as a pluralist.

It made me wonder what changes would benefit the working multipotentialite most, and how we could help to bring about a greater understanding and acceptance of our career paths. Here are some ideas I’d like to throw out there for consideration.

1) Multiple job titles

Just think, instead of being a “Web Designer” or a “Marine Biologist” you could officially be a “Web Designer & Marine Biologist”. Imagine how that would look on your business card! It would certainly distinguish your services from those of the bog-standard specialist, eh?

Filling in forms would become much more amusing when it came to selecting your “job title” from a drop down list.

2) One job, two or more roles

Imagine if instead of the normal convention of having a full time job with just the one role, it became quite usual to take on two or more roles. I’m not talking about the need to take on several part-time jobs to make ends meet, but a genuine desire on behalf of both you, and your employer, to utilize your full range of skills.

Maybe you’re great at analyzing spreadsheets, as well as being a real people-person. No longer would you have to choose one or the other, because in the one-job-two-roles model you could explore several facets of your skill-set in the same job.

Rather than keeping it a secret, or glossing over your diverse career history, it might even become advantageous to tell your boss about your multipotentiality.

3) Portfolio working

More and more of us are developing a combination of employment, freelance work and our own businesses, often at the same time in a portfolio style of working.

Anyone’s who done this for a while will be familiar with the confused expression on other people’s faces, as they try to comprehend not only the concept of portfolio working, but also the diversity of the typical multipotentialite.

Could we ever reach the stage where it was expected that everyone had a job or business plus several other side projects? I’m imagining a world where small talk would include questions not just about the weather, but also about your latest entrepreneurial start-up.

4) No more stress over the question “What do you do?”

Imagine no longer feeling stressed over answering the ‘What do you do?” question, as reeling off a long list would be the accepted norm. Sounds pretty great, doesn’t it?

Over to you!

Do you think the idea of a multipotentialite-friendly work culture is a future reality or just a pipe dream? What changes would you like to see to make the working world more multipotentialite friendly?

bevBev is an artist, creativity coach and founder of Kickass Creatives, a website offering practical support to frustrated creatives. She’s over 20 years of working in the arts: experimenting with everything from performing in a fire circus and managing a hiphop dance company, through to web consultancy and jewellery design. Bev is passionate about using her experience to enable others to fully develop (rather than hide) their multitude of talents too. Connect with her on Twitter @creativekickass.

6 Comments

  1. Em says:

    I really like those ideas. The best jobs I ever had were when I was sort of forced to use multiple skills and have many diferent responsibilities. I’ve always felt bit upset and maybe even insulted about the actual job title I had and the image that people usually connect to that image.

    One of those jobs was pretty much a “Shopgirl” in a bakery shop. That’s like the lowest job society thinks you could do while who has tried to work in any fast-food, knows you need to be damn able to do pretty much everything from cleaning toilets to managing people around you and serving customers which is not an easy task itself. I’m not gonna dig into all of my responsibilites there and what did I have to learn and perform on a daily basis but man, “Shopgirl” is SUCH an understatement :D

    When I write that in CV, I make sure I include all of my responsibilites and sometimes I’m not afraid to call it at least the Shop manager or something ’cause that’s what I was more likely and I want my future employers to know that I can do a lot of different tasks as I’ve already done before. I’d really like it if job positions were named more accurately to what they actually include, even if it was a bit longer. Not sure if it’s just my country (Czech Republic) or it’s everywhere, but it seems like they always call them somehow vaguely and weird so that noone can actually say what are responsibilities of that person – so that no matter what they ask you for (and they will ask thounsand things), you may never say:”Hey, I’m an XY, this is definitely not my responsibility!”.

    Many jobs I’ve done were about doing a lot of various stuff and they never paid respect to the fact with the title. The multiple job titles would definitely help it.

    • Bev Webb says:

      Hey Em! Thanks for your great comment – it sounds like some of your job descriptions have been more than a little understated!!

      I agree that for a CV or application, it’s important to really highlight what you actually did and were responsible for, rather that just the job title. I’m guessing you would absolutely love the chance to create your own title and smoosh all of your skills into it. :)

  2. Margaux says:

    Totally exists already. I say this all the time, but the kind of company a multipod should seek out if they “need” to find a job is a medium-small company (40-100 employees) run by entrepreneurs. Not the government, not a school, not a union, not a multinational corporation, not a publicly traded company.

    I’ve been working at one of these places for 14+ years and most people here don’t have titles because what they do is often difficult to summarise into a single line. People who do have titles have specific responsibilities (sales, accounting, IT support). Some people with titles just made them up, and used the most top-of-mind thing, but those titles don’t necessarily mean anything to outsiders (Unique Ability Specialist, Entrepreneurial Team Expert).

    But the majority of people do a range of stuff and have to use many different skills and abilities throughout the day and week. And if you don’t do a range of stuff but want to, it’s totally acceptable to jump into any project you want to be a part of if you have something to contribute. It’s also totally acceptable to come up with your own projects for what the company needs but doesn’t yet have handled.

    I’ve never had a title or a business card. Lately, I’ve begun to use “Digital Media Factotum” as a title, though that doesn’t really cover the writing and editing stuff. Perhaps, “Production Team Factotum” but that seems uninspiring. Perhaps “Design and Media Content Factotum.” I dunno. It’s a work in progress.

  3. Sarah says:

    Re: Multiple job titles, oh I wish!

    Including Pharmacist and Playwright in the one sentence or even on the same page of your CV leads to nothing but trouble (and unemployment). I read a comment from Emilie somewhere that said, “My CV looks like it belongs to ten different people!” Amen.

    Some industries that are very, er straight, are threatened by potential employees showing symptoms of creativity.

    They won’t say it, but you can see it in their eyes. And in their rejection emails.

  4. Bev Webb says:

    Hi Margaux! Yep, there are some great entrepreneurial companies out there, and there are many things that more “traditional” organisations could learn from them.

    Wouldn’t it be amazing if all employees, whatever type of company they worked for, were able to do things like jump in to projects that interested them? I’m thinking about all that untapped potential which would be released!

    I’m really intrigued by the invented job titles – that sounds like an amazing opportunity to brand what you do, and to adapt it as your role and involvement in projects changes. Thanks for sharing your experience. :)

  5. LindaMay says:

    The flip side of this is being capable of doing a whole lot of roles and filling a lot of gaps, but choosing not to. I’ve been doing a short term training contract at my former place of work and could see a lot of things that needed doing but didn’t want to go down that path. I found myself taking on too much and really had to pull back. I’d be interested to know how other multi pods deal with setting boundaries around what they are willing to take on, whether that means holding back from jumping in, or actively or saying No to a request.

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