I was sitting in an interesting presentation tonight that was about managing your career called “8 Essential Levers for Job (Search) Success” by Chani Pangali, and as part of his talk he mentioned the pardigm shift that is going on with how careers need to be managed.As we moved from small villages to an industrial society, we evolved from a barter economy, where you traded what you do for what you need, to a market economy that was based on doing work that supported the industry.Ā  To me it seems that this resulted in huge shift where many relationships were replaced by intermediaries.

Way back when I was first working at Excite in the heady days of the early web, we used to talk about how the web was going to result in disintermediation (removing the need for intermediaries between businesses). Interestingly enough, that really didn’t happen, rather we saw an increase in intermediaries with all sorts of new web ventures springing to life and placing themselves in the middle of the supply chain by adding value to the transaction. That’s not to say they didn’t change businesses, they just didn’t change the paradigm: witness eBay connecting buyers and sellers, changing the business and creating a new way to sell your goods. But while the business was new, the paradigm was still placing trust in the intermediary.

The web has helped drive a shift in this paradigm with phenomena like blogs and social networking sites. By giving us new ways to network and connect, we are finding once again that the relationship is king. Similar to the way eBay connected buyers and sellers, these electronic interactions connect people by allowing them to find common interests and fill needs that would have been far too costly in the past. I can write this web post, and somebody who I would never have met may find meaning in my words and benefit from them in a way that would not have occurred before. In addition, because blogs are two way conversations, I might be introduced to an opportunity that could change my life by somebody who has read my blog.

This scope of this change is similar to what happened with the beginning of distributed newspapers (and before that the printing press). The press allowed an idea to be readily shared to a more distributed audience, and the distribution allowed that audience to become even larger. With the web, the cost factor is essentially removed from the distribution, so that same idea is accessible to the entire world (and the barrier to two-way communication is effectively removed too).

The paradigm shift which seems to be going on is also related to the competition and change in the market. While our parents may have been able to find a company that they would commit their work to, and in turn receive some assurance of stability and a partner in their professional development, the global economy no longer supports this sort of relationship. Companies have found they can no longer afford to commit or invest in their employees the way they used to, and have (in general) placed the responsibility firmly on the worker.