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Hi. I'm Laura.

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What Your Random Jobs Have in Common

What Your Random Jobs Have in Common

When you learn about the new career paradigm, you’ll see that it’s much more fluid than the old paradigm. You may have already felt this in your own experience as having a string a jobs or careers, as opposed to just picking one thing and sticking with it.

This is not a problem. But it can present some challenges. It can feel discombobulating. It can make you feel like a failure because you haven’t “figured things out” yet. It can be hard to explain to potential employers.

What you need is a way to connect the dots between the things you’ve done.

Meet the through-line. It’s sanity inducing.

THROUGH-LINE(S)

1. The uniting theme(s) that connect the multiple careers throughout a career arc.

– I was an architect, web-designer, and event planner, and creating memorable experiences for people was my through-line.

Back in my actor days, I took a summer course with a master teacher on the topic of “generating new material.” Basically: creating new work from scratch. Some actors struggled to sew together smaller pieces into a larger work, fearing that the pieces had no connection to each other. The master teacher explained that if the pieces came from the same person, then there was a connection. Period. The actor’s job was to reveal the connections enough for the audience to follow along.

The same is true about career through-lines.

No matter how many different careers you’ve had, there is always a through-line, even if only apparent to you, or if not immediately apparent to you. Finding your through-line will help you feel as though there is some continuity between the seemingly disparate careers you’ve had (because there is).

Now, anchor jobs may not fit into your through-line, because those tend to be money-driven, not purpose-driven. But if you look at the meaningful careers in your career arc, you can find a through-line. Haven’t had meaningful jobs? You can always reference meaningful projects or experiences, instead.

I’ll use myself as an example. So far, I’ve had two main careers: acting and coaching. I’ve also done some teaching here and there, and that’s purpose-driven to me, so we’ll throw that into the mix. For me, what do acting, coaching, and teaching have in common? What do I give to these careers, and what do they give to me?

The through-lines for me are collaboration, community, inciting change, and being part of creating marvelous things.

When you can articulate your through-line, not only will you feel a bit relieved, but it will be easier to explain to friends, clients, or employers about your changin’ heart.

The externals of your careers may have changed, but the core, the through-line, has remained the same.

  1. linda.ursin@gmail.com

    July 25th, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    I sent you this in an email, but I thought I’d add it as a comment so more people can add their opinions as well 🙂
    When the only jobs you’ve had have been jobs you didn’t like but had to take to even get one, does those give a good through line?

  2. laura@yourcareerhomecoming.com

    July 25th, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Good question! Read the worksheet 😉 There’s a work around if you haven’t had jobs you like.

  3. apriljohnson33@gmail.com

    November 9th, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Linda, you ask a great question! Perhaps like me, there is pain in the question or journey. After much (often painful) soul-searching, I am back in school to change my life. For me, finding my purpose, calling, or next step had nothing (or little?) to do with the jobs of my past. Instead, it was about knowing myself, my passions, gifts, and mostly the things or activities that make me come alive. There’s a lot of creativity in this for me and that creativity provided safety for my soul to explore who it is I want to be in the world. It also started by knowing this nugget of information: we are all here to serve. In time, I was able to expand on that. We each serve in our own, unique way, using our own special gifts and talents. I wish you peace and endless successes, Linda.

  4. catmilc@hotmail.com

    July 25th, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    I’ve worked in property development financing, in corporate financing, then derivatives trading. Liked none of them. I also, with my husband, started a promotional products supplier company, which is young and growing. I’ve now quit working in it and a full time artist. Where is the through-line?

  5. laura@yourcareerhomecoming.com

    July 25th, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    Do the worksheet! You have to do the work 🙂 This is a case of “not immediately apparent to you.”

  6. catmilc@hotmail.com

    July 26th, 2013 at 4:45 am

    Laura, I’ve done the work, and it is very revealing! Thank you!I have found that the consistency in the things that are meaningful to me.
    • Creating new things that make a difference. This started from my early banking days, to more apparently the case when I became an entrepreneur starting a company with my husband, to then again, being on my own as an artist.
    • Clarity. I hate ambiguity and I need to clearly see the efforts and measure the results. That’s why I hated my earlier jobs, but enjoyed being an entrepreneur building a business from scratch, making cold calls, organising and standing in our booth in trade shows talking to people.
    • Personal Growth. I have to keep learning new things. I would died of boredom of myself if I don’t.
    Now do I need to put that into one sentence? I find it hard. Thank you very much, Laura.

  7. laura@yourcareerhomecoming.com

    July 26th, 2013 at 11:50 am

    So glad you gave it a try. I think as long as you can talk about it clearly in conversation, you don’t have to have a polished one-liner. And you may never need to even have a conversation about it; for some people, knowing their through-line gives them confidence and is a helpful compass.

  8. catmilc@hotmail.com

    July 27th, 2013 at 10:45 am

    It definitely gives me some confidence and a lot of clarity. So thank you, Laura. It really really worked!But what is the possible next step that now I know my through-line, how to actually use it to help me?

  9. laura@yourcareerhomecoming.com

    July 30th, 2013 at 11:25 am

    You can use it several ways. I wouldn’t expect your through-line alone to help you find a Homecoming Career, but it can be a handy spot-check.
    1. Think about what other possible careers would fit with your through-line.

    2. Once you have some possible careers in mind, use your through-line as a test to see which ones match up.

    3. If you ever have to justify your “unrelated” jobs to anyone else, use your through-line to explain how they relate.

    4. Find ways to bring more of the qualities from your through-line into your current work.

  10. paintinglucy@gmail.com

    August 3rd, 2013 at 2:55 am

    Thanks, Laura,I’ve now discovered my calling and I’m on my way.
    But definitely, I’m looking at my through-line again, and YES, I can bring more of the qualities from it into the current work I do, which is being a portrait artist! Things like:
    • Creating new things: I’ll try different ways, perspectives etc. to keep things fresh and myself excited
    • Finding clarity: painting is a way, the only way, for me to express my deep feelings and explore my identity, my views on things and the world.
    • Keep growing and learning.
    Thank you, Laura.

  11. dede_lacreta@hotmail.com

    July 25th, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    All I did all my life was related to kids and babysitting somehow. I came up that my possible through line is that although I do not care for kids anymore, as a photographer I want to be part of their lives by registering their grow, happiness and loving family.
    I hope I did good!! =)

  12. laura@yourcareerhomecoming.com

    July 25th, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    Debra, that sounds good to me!

  13. beautyanna08@mail.ru

    July 25th, 2013 at 11:09 pm

    Laura, this is such a powerful exercise!
    I would encourage, especially younger people like quarterlifers, to also think about their projects they did at university – just think about ANY single project that fired you up in the past 🙂

    Also, you know how oftentimes we THINK we should feel fulfillment in a particular field, but when we start breaking it down, it turns out that our passion lies in a completely different field! This is what this exercise just showed me! I like how structured this worksheet is, but at the same time it allows me to go with the flow!

    It also reminded me, how Marie Forleo recently said in one of her videos, that we need to feel both to succeed: achievement AND fulfillment! I think this is also part of the through-line!

    Anna

  14. laura@yourcareerhomecoming.com

    July 25th, 2013 at 11:41 pm

    Thanks, Anna! And yes, I agree about looking to any kind of project or activity that turns your motor. The core DNA of what makes work meaningful doesn’t usually live within a specific field, and it’s helpful to look at the smaller “molecules” that make up meaning for us.

  15. ecmadore@gmail.com

    July 26th, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    Hi Laura,
    Thank you for sharing this very insightful and inspiring way to view one’s career… it’s really helpful for me as I have so many different passions. As a writer, coach, Reiki guide, yoga and spin instructor the through-lines I see are :: connection, creativity and inspiration.

    In gratitude,
    Erin

  16. laura@yourcareerhomecoming.com

    August 6th, 2013 at 2:07 am

    Awesome. Nice to know it IS all related, isn’t it?

  17. Jszflanagan@gmail.com

    July 30th, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    Oh my gosh – this is incredible. Thank you Laura for sharing this. I am someone who has had that mish-mash of jobs that all seem unrelated. I finally have the thread that runs through them all! And not only that I have a way of thinking about myself, my career and what I do for the future. My somewhat large through-line is: Community – serving, supporting, planning, organizing, physical and mental interaction. What a gift. Thank you.

  18. laura@yourcareerhomecoming.com

    August 6th, 2013 at 2:06 am

    Great discovery, Jennifer!

  19. Anonymous

    August 8th, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    […] Find Your Through-Line. At the end of a college career your experiences, involvement, and skills — AKA life — […]

  20. Anonymous

    August 23rd, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    […] the book about learning to find connections between the disparate jobs you’ve had. I call it “finding your through-line,” because there are always themes that connect the seemingly unrelated work we’ve done. Always. […]

  21. Anonymous

    April 24th, 2014 at 12:01 am

    […] absolutely true is that I’m at home as a coach. In fact, I’ve done nothing but coach in every job I’ve ever had – whether my years in the non-profit sector or those in business – even though I held positions […]

  22. Anonymous

    May 20th, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    […] Simms of Create As Folk has created a workbook that helps you, “connect the dots between random jobs you’ve had.” She asks you […]

  23. kaitlinryan22@gmail.com

    May 22nd, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    I had been needing a breakthrough of some kind in my career search. This exercise provided me with the freedom to look at what I liked and where I found meaning in the clearest way possible. My through-lines are these: I thrive on interacting with new people frequently; volunteerism and fun events are stimulating for me; communication/teamwork/timeline is crucial for me to feel stable; and I work by using checklists and detail-oriented methods. Thank you!

  24. laura@yourcareerhomecoming.com

    May 23rd, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    You’re welcome, Kaitlin! Glad it was helpful.

  25. shayslifko@gmal.com

    May 24th, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    I’m having trouble finding the worksheet. Can you help?

  26. laura@yourcareerhomecoming.com

    May 24th, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    It’s here: https://s3.amazonaws.com/createasfolkpublic/Find+Your+Through+Line.pdf

  27. Senegoid@aol.com

    August 20th, 2015 at 6:15 pm

    Hi Laura,
    This link apparently no longer work. Is there another version of the worksheet somewhere?
    Thanks,
    Howie

  28. laura@yourcareerhomecoming.com

    August 20th, 2015 at 8:08 pm

    Hey Howie,
    It’s working for me. You might try another browser, but the link is here: https://s3.amazonaws.com/createasfolkpublic/Find+Your+Through+Line.pdf

  29. helenmclaughlin@gmail.com

    May 24th, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    Laura, this is incredible. You’re right about doing the work; something happens between the reading and the thinking and the worksheets, and it’s magical.
    I just learned that my through-line is largely a string of Cs: community/connection-building, providing comfort, engaging in conversation, and contributing culturally.

    It’s transformative, having a distillation of my interests via my job/career history. Thank you so much.

  30. laura@yourcareerhomecoming.com

    May 24th, 2014 at 8:36 pm

    So glad this was helpful, Helen. It was definitely a lightbulb moment for me when I realized my through-line. Love all of your C’s!

  31. Anonymous

    June 4th, 2014 at 12:04 am

    […] – What my definition of success is – How coaching is a skill, not necessarily a business – My own through-line – What my niche could be – The emotional experience of life as opposed to the concrete / logical […]

  32. Anonymous

    August 7th, 2014 at 5:36 am

    […] you can claim a sense of purpose. you can want to make a difference. you can have themes that run throughout your life and motivate you. […]

  33. Anonymous

    August 25th, 2014 at 12:04 am

    […] What Your Random Jobs Have in Common on Create as […]

  34. Anonymous

    October 20th, 2014 at 7:04 am

    […] right? If you need help figuring out your own career through-line, you can download a free worksheet from Simms’ […]

  35. Anonymous

    November 6th, 2014 at 12:01 am

    […] you want a long, fulfilling career, or a through-line of fulfilling careers, here’s the best advice I have to […]

  36. Anonymous

    November 8th, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    […] stuff: Why I do work that feels effortless (&maybe you should, too) //What your random jobs have in common // Why I took a full-time job Let’s be buddies! facebook // twitter // instagram // […]

  37. Anonymous

    July 9th, 2015 at 6:31 am

    […] few weeks ago I ran across an article by Laura Simms titled “What Your Random Jobs Have in Common.” She discusses the idea of a through-line, the uniting theme(s) that connect multiple […]

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  39. Anonymous

    January 6th, 2016 at 12:03 am

    […] The Through-line […]

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