How to Build a Nontraditional Career Path: Embracing Economic Disruption
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Here is what others have said, our book testimonials:
"A clear, comprehensive, and easy-to-read guide on what many of us are thinking about and already doing—the alternate career path. Ron has put everything together in one place—the background data, the work plan and more—now I know that my career path is doable (and not out of the ordinary). Thank you Ron!"—David Knego, Executive Director, Curry Senior Center
"Ron Elsdon has provided a complete process including assessments, resources, and check lists to understand the nontraditional career path. The ups and downs of choosing this work style were validated through Elsdon's personal experience and, for those who are either mid-career or retiring, it’s a way to continue to have a productive work life."—Patricia DeMasters, Director, Career Management Group, University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business
"We know the world doesn't work the way it used to, but there's little advice on how to reinvent ourselves for the 21st-century world of work. In this timely, insightful book Elsdon offers a brave new picture of careers for the future, where we can holistically honor our values, talents, and unique personality traits while generating multiple income streams."—Robin Wortley Hammond, Career and Performance Consultant
"Ron Elsdon addresses an important work life issue, namely how to establish a new path of fulfillment, through assessment and integration of personal and career motivators, as well as marketplace alignment. The book’s broad perspective, practical details, and hard data give readers an invaluable foundation on which to build."—Lenore Mewton, Lenore Mewton & Associates – Career and Leadership Development, Coaching and Consulting
"If you have ever considered leaving the often unfulfilling role of employee behind in favor of running your own business, then this is the book you need to read. It guides you through the journey with a detailed analysis of the steps needed for success and it provides the benefit of the author’s firsthand experience."—Kathleen Engelstad, Career Counselor and Former President of the California Career Development Association
"If you have often thought about leaving your corporate career path to start your own business and did not know how to begin, then this is the book for you. Ron Elsdon has written a very creative and readable book with personal examples, plus all the aspects to consider before you make the change. This is a go-to guide for everyone who wants to make a change."—Barbara Langsdale, Vice President Marketing and Communications, We Care Services for Children
"Ron Elsdon’s How to Build a Nontraditional Career Path: Embracing Economic Disruption provides a comprehensive and humanistic look at nontraditional jobs. Using his own personal story, and those of others, he provides the reader with the critical questions they need to ask when beginning a nontraditional career, and then he provides useful insights on how to begin this exciting and challenging journey. A must-read, whether you are just starting your career path, or are planning your next phase."—Ron Visconti, Executive Director, Phase2Careers
Here is a review from the Career Planning and Adult Development Journal by Michele DeRosa, career management and workforce development consultant, corporate career coach, curriculum designer and instructor. Source: Career Planning and Adult Development Journal, Volume 31, Number 1, Spring 2015, Book Reviews 2015, Maggi Kirkbride Book Reviews Editor, 11-12.
How to Build a Nontraditional Career Path: Embracing Economic Disruption, by Ron Elsdon provides spot-on support and guidance for doing just as the name of the book implies. Career changers and budding small business owners would do well to use this book as a guide throughout their journeys. This book will also work as a textbook for courses in entrepreneurship and career development as well as a resource for work search seminars. According to Elsdon, a non-traditional career is about creating more than one source of income from work components designed to match individual skills, interests, and motivations while addressing market needs. Part I of the book, "Laying the Foundation," addresses the differences, opportunities, benefits, and challenges between traditional and nontraditional ways of working. It offers a broad range of examples of combining fairly similar to very different types of work, and it introduces issues such as locus of control, necessary skills, financial and logistical factors, and defining fulfillment and success for oneself.
Elsdon recommends self-assessment and provides targeted resources for exploring values, interests, and personality - not to determine if a nontraditional career is the best way to go - rather to assist with clarifying purpose, staying true to values, and knowing what one has to offer in the marketplace. For instance, during the discussion of values, Elsdon skillfully relates all eight of Schein's "Career Anchors" to how each contributes to success in a nontraditional career. The remainder of the book delves deeper into how to launch, grow and evolve a nontraditional career. All along the way, Elsdon demonstrates his concepts by using several real life examples of himself and others in various life and career stages, occupations and professions, situations, and levels of connectedness among what he refers to as the career components. His own grappling with learning the art of public speaking and the how-to's of an automated payroll system make for wonderful and instructive storytelling.
Part II focuses on "Strategic Factors To Consider" when developing and sustaining a nontraditional career. Two chapters are devoted to selecting, connecting, and balancing the career components that comprise the type of professional activities taken on and how time and energy are spent.
The informative chapter on "Finding Differentiation" points out the necessity for determining one's niche(s) in the marketplace, significant for an effective initial career launch as well as for ongoing sustainability. Elsdon explores a variety of possible sources, e.g. distinct products/services, operational excellence, team capability, ability to tailor to customer needs, speed, cost, etc. In another chapter, Elsdon recognizes the value created through the synergy of "Partnering" with external customers and colleagues as well as for building internal capabilities. He describes partnering as "... building relationships to prosper in today's fluid world [with] mutual benefit," and "... pooling resources and knowledge leading to an outcome that would not have been possible without it." He encourages nurturing one's network through active listening and curiosity, being visible and trustworthy, and ongoing acknowledgement. Critical venues include professional/trade associations and social media. Additional chapters on "Pace of Entry" and "Building Needed Skills" round out this substantial middle section. Part III presents "Practical Steps and the Path Forward." The "Infrastructure: Nuts and Bolts" chapter covers a broad range of essentials needed to conduct one's business effectively and efficiently. Elsdon goes into detail regarding business structure, regulatory factors, internal infrastructure, and customer considerations. The final chapter on "Moving Forward" chronicles the life cycle of a nontraditional career from initial entry to launch, then growth and evolution to completion. A robust list of questions assists in ongoing evaluation of each phase.
Elsdon offers and explores gems throughout the book that are valuable for both career development professionals and clients considering a nontraditional path:
- Many combinations of work activities such a career can encompass
- Necessary skills blending solid content knowledge, consulting capabilities, organizing skills, and personal attributes
- Updated and functional definitions of oft-used work search terms
- Questions to Consider at the end of each chapter
- Timing (gradual vs. immediate immersion) and balancing components (related vs. discrete work activities)
- Detailed logistical guidance and tips for what needs to be in place and in process to get started and move forward
- Reminder that growth and evolution will depend on staying current with business trends, technology and customer needs as well as ongoing self-assessment of aspirations
A hallmark of Elsdon's approach is his outstanding ability to address both the intrinsic and practical aspects of a topic with equal assurance and enthusiasm, and then to provide usable tools, assessments, templates, tables, and checklists to facilitate implementation. This book follows suit. In this well organized and thoughtfully written book, Elsdon provides extensive information and support for pursuing an out-of-the-corporate-box career. He sums up well what this publication delivers when he writes, "... a nontraditional career path offers an opportunity to integrate the emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and practical parts of who we are. It can be a journey with delightful surprises, with kindred fellow travelers, that brings personal fulfillment and community benefit."