Manage Your Jobsearch – Career Timeline

This post has been written as a result of reading “Managing Your Job Search” by Johanna Rothman.

One of the exercises Johanna suggests the reader tries is to map their career highs & lows on a timeline to help them make decisions as to what their next role should include.

Below is a graph of my career timeline. I have included my personal timeline as well because I found my personal life had such a large influence in my career (some might say obviously…)


This was my first attempt at the timeline. I want to revisit this graph as I don’t feel breaking it down into years is granular enough – there was fluctuation throughout each of the years. My next attempt will break the graph down into annual quarters (e.g. 2013 q1, q2, q3, q4)

So what does this graph show?

I won’t go into minute detail, instead I’ll pick out some of the highlights.

I started work as a Tester (of sorts) in 2001. This was my 1st job out of university. It was a great job, in London & my first real experience of a proper salary. the balance was just right – my job enabled me to live the life I wanted.

I successfully applied for a role in a different part of the organisation which was great, but I was then made redundant. My career hit a low after the redundancy.

I took the redundancy as an opportunity to relocate to be with my girlfriend (now wife :-)) & end the long distance relationship blues.

Unfortunately my “career” took a dip after the redundancy as I was out of the work I wanted to be doing – I was taking jobs to make ends meet. This had a knock on effect with my personal life. It was a deep hole to dig out of, both personally & professionally.

Things started back on the up when I got a job testing Playstation 2 games. That was a fun job, but not particularly challenging for me.

It did, however, give me the platform to start my career again (and an interesting talking point in interviews)

As you can see, my personal life took off from here as well – buying our first property & getting married was absolutely fantastic.

All the fun in my personal life (& an ignorant/naive view of being self employed) meant that my career stagnated somewhat – I wasn’t paying attention to my progression.

I was a Tester for Sony Ericsson when they closed the Warrington office (where I was based). Unfortunately, it took them 6 months to decide to close the office & so not much work was achieved in that time.

Duncan-now would snap up that opportunity to learn something. Not Duncan-then. He browsed the web, a lot. I hang my head when I think about that lost opportunity.

From here, my interest in testing took a nose dive. My whole career had been requirements, functional specs, Excel spreadsheeets… I was ready for a change.

I took a Testing role which was great daily rate, but the role didn’t appeal – it didn’t challenge me. I spent 9 months editing spreadsheets.

You can see my personal timeline was flying though – We had just had our twin girls, so I was happy to tradeoff an easier role for more family time & to think about what was next career wise.

It was then that I was fortunate enough to get a contract as a Tester on a highly performing Development team in an Agile environment (Scrum, Lean, Kanban, XP).

This role reinvigorated what I was looking for in a role – a shift from checking boxes & keeping paperwork happy to delivering software for real people to use.

The team also had Thoughtworks consultants onboard – their energy & enthusiasm rubbed off on me & I (finally) took responsibility & ownership for my career & worked out what interested me.

My self study went through the roof – challenges at work gave me the authentic problems I needed to motivate me.

After this, my family & I had a massive life change – we relocated country as I landed my current testing role in Gibraltar which would require applying & teaching all the skills I learned in the previous role.

My wife & girls have settled in so well, so this makes me happy. I was concerned that this change would be too much for them.

As for the job, its not the exact role I was hoping for, but I’m working on that…

Whats next for my timeline? I can’t wait to find out!


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