Careers

Your career is more like an iPhone than a ladder, says ex-Google career coach

People with successful careers don't "climb the corporate ladder" anymore, according to Jenny Blake, a former career coach at Google and co-founder of the company's career mentoring program.

In an economy where both workers and employers are less loyal to each other, the metaphor of a ladder is outdated. It doesn't account for lateral moves between job positions, projects and even companies that help many professionals find happiness, Blake says.

Instead, to help you find more happiness at work or from your next professional move, Blake urges you to think of your career a different way.

"Consider your career like a smartphone, not a ladder," Blake tells CNBC. "It's up to you to 'download apps' for different skills, interests and side projects that sound interesting and fulfilling to you."

These "apps" you "download" can be classes you take on skills you've always wanted to learn or new activities you pursue, like participation in an office book club or study of a new language. Virtually anything that excites and motivates you and helps you grow.

You're much more likely to get hired for the unique skills you have — whether those come from inside or outside the office, Blake says.

In fact, having different outside hobbies and interests not only boosts your productivity and work, but can help you deal with a job you dislike, research shows.

"A career is not a ladder anymore." -Jenny Blake, career strategist and author of "Pivot"

Blake knows a thing or two about creating great careers. After helping more than a thousand people advance their own careers at Google, she started her own coaching firm and published her own book on the topic called Pivot: The Only Move that Matters is Your Next One.

Her advice, while especially poignant for recent grads who place a lot of emphasis on the first job they get out of college, is relevant to all professionals.

"A career is not a ladder anymore," Blake says. "Any job you take will give you 'apps' that will help improve time management, communication, money management." Those skills will better equip you for your next change or, perhaps, upgrade.

Check out Jenny Blake's advice on how to avoid the biggest mistake she sees workers make.