Friday, July 25, 2008

The Peripatetic Professional

Our notion of the professional career is set to change.

The vast majority of today's organizations rely primarily on fulltime employees to get their work done. However, there is a small fraction of professionals who work for organizations, but not as fulltime employees: they take on an assignment with specified deliverables for a company, complete that assignment, and move on to the next, usually with a different company.

Although people who work like like this are hardly unknown, we don't even have a name for someone who works in this mode. The closest names are probably 'consultant', 'contractor', or 'temp', but each of these words has many meanings and none of them really captures the essence of this type of professional.

Only a tiny fraction of professionals in any field today work in this manner. But they're the vanguard of a new brand of professionals who will emerge over the next few years, and who will change our notion of the professional career forever.

Why will this change happen? I've outlined the reasons, and painted my vision of how the professional career of the future will look, in this column.

We've come a long way from the notion of cradle-to-grave employment. Now, get ready to live purely from one assignment to the other.