The Squiggly Career … by Helen Tupper and Sarah Ellis

I ordered The Squiggly Career immediately after I had heard the authors speak at TEDx London Women. Their talk had been curiously titled “Why Squiggly Careers are Better for Everyone“. The session from Helen Tupper and Sarah Ellis didn’t disappoint and very quickly had me gripped.  I wanted to know more on the subject of ‘Squiggly Careers’ … this would definitely be a deckchair read!  

The central premise of the book is that careers don’t necessarily need to  advance in a series of ‘upward’ steps.  Career ‘ladders’ were a concept introduced to motivate workers in the early 1900’s.  Nowadays, careers are likely to take a variety of different but equally valid directions.  A bit more like a squiggle.  Being a big fan of bold statements, I particularly liked the very simple graphical representation of this.

Squiggly Careers TEDx London Women

You can go your own way ...

I have felt uneasy at the concept of a ‘career ladder’ for some time.  The idea seems dated and certainly doesn’t apply to my own career.  I am keen to grow as a person and employee.  I would like to progress my career, and want to be valued and rewarded, but I don’t necessarily want a promotion.  This is a difficult position, particularly when most companies recognise and reward achievement that way.  This puts me at odds with the way many companies handle employee progression.  And I have long suspected that I must not be the only person feeling this way.

Because of this, I had not felt comfortable when helping my children get to grips with determining their career choices.  So aside from helping me with my own career choices,  ‘The Squiggly Career’ has been a parenting life-saver!

Come as you are ... and do what you love

In addition to helping with parenting challenges, the Squiggly Career is filled with inspirational stories.  I found these particularly interesting as in many ways they mirror my own experiences.  

It also contains some activities to help you design your own squiggly career.  These activities are relevant to pretty much everyone. Some of them are listed below.

  • Play to your super strengths
  • Discover your values
  • Overcome confidence gremlins
  • Build better support networks
  • Explore future possibilities
At each point, the authors provide a ‘workbook’ like experience to help the reader work through the ideas presented.  This helps the reader understand how concepts relate to their own career, and really brings them to life.

Don't just take my word for it ...

At the end of the book, there is a section called ‘100 pieces of career advice’.  This advice is grouped into question areas that can be used as a reference.  These cover questions you might put to yourself from time to time. Given by highly successful and inspirational individuals, this reference is an absolute goldmine.  I feel it is something I will go back to again and again.

In fact, I suspect this whole book will become incredibly well-thumbed.  It’s an interesting and entertaining read and full of helpful advice and ideas.  I would 100% recommend it  to anyone, regardless what point they are at in their career.

The Squiggly Career
Deckchair Reads 9/10