July 13, 2021 - Creating Your Own Unique Non-traditional Profile?

Want a Fulfilling Career? Ever Thought of Creating Your Own Unique Non-traditional Profile?

In a previous article, I discussed the importance of identifying what our “values” were, and what “success” meant to us. But identifying what it is we really like to do as a mean of earning a living, where we spend a large portion of our time, is also critical to leading a fulfilling career.

For some, becoming more and more experienced in a chosen field, progressing along the hierarchy ladder to a more senior position, is what matters the most. And that is fine.

But for many others, we want a career that allows us to:

  • Experience different professional environments, such as working for a small or a large company; for different parties involved in the construction industry; at different stages of the construction process; on different types of projects.
  • Work in different countries, where we may need to speak several languages and understand how “things are done” there, to facilitate the communication within the team, the client, and the other parties involved with the project.
  • Practice several technical expertise, instead of specializing in only one. For example, engineering in the construction industry includes many different specialties, such as environmental, geotechnical, hydraulic, structural, electrical, mechanical, and many more – and each of these can be subdivided into further specialties.
  • Mix different types of expertise, such as engineering and management, or finance, or legal – this can be especially advantageous to someone who wants to lead multiple departments, or even a company; to become a construction lawyer, to manage people based in different countries, etc.
  • Be involved with up-coming technologies and practices such as:
    • BIM (Building Information Modelling), which affects design coordination, ordering of materials and equipment, project management… and can have legal implications when a party makes changes to the model which can have a wide impact on the other parties.
    • Smart contracting (self-executing contracts which terms and conditions are written into lines of code and are executed automatically based on progress information), which aims at facilitating the management of the contractual issues, but can also lead to other legal implications depending on changes made, coordination with other contracts or entities, consideration by the courts…  

That is, we want a career that allows us to experiment, to have multiple experiences, to practice several work-related interests – and this type of career requires that we create our own fairly unique, “non-traditional” profile.

Where Does that Desire Come from?

For some of us, this desire comes from something we saw, heard, or read about in our childhood. For some, it is easy to identify the origin; but for others, it may be a lot more difficult and complex – I’m sure a psychologist would be able to say a lot more about this, but I’m not one and I don’t intent to wander into that field.

For others, it may come from role models we encountered along the way, either at school, during our higher education, at work…

But this desire for a “non-traditional” profile may also come from wanting to reach a much higher position in a company, requiring to have a more global understanding of how the company works on all fronts (products and services, administration, finance, legal, client-facing, etc.).

It could also come from wanting to be different from, and have an “edge” over, our “competition” in the employment market. This is especially relevant when the pool of available and suitable professionals is much bigger than the pool of job opportunities.

Or it may be because we get “bored” after a few years of working in the same environment, and need to make some major changes to how we earn a living…

And there’re probably many more reasons why someone would not want to follow the “traditional” path of becoming more and more experienced in a chosen field, progressing along the hierarchy ladder to a more senior position.

How to Create your “Non-Traditional” Profile?

There’s an infinite number of ways to achieve this, if that’s really what you want to do. But what comes to mind first are:

  • Furthering our education, whether formally or informally, at university, through a professional body, via practical training…
  • Taking the risk to go in different directions, such as actively looking for work in a different field, applying to a position that has attracted our interest, taking on an opportunity presented to us…
  • Building up different experiences on top of each other.
  • Going through a mentoring program that guides us through identifying our strengths, reviewing our past experiences, assessing where we fit within our actual organization or industry, and looking towards the future based on what we like, are good at, or can further develop.
  • Taking on a life or career coach to further explore what it is we want to do and to identify steps on how to achieve this.
  • Letting our imagination run.
  • Creating our own opportunities.

Knowing our “values” and what “success” means to us is critical in guiding us into creating our own fairly unique profile. And so is identifying existing skills that we can use in a different field, continuously learning and educating ourselves to open our mind to otherwise invisible options, and having a diverse network that can open up opportunities…

What about Advantages and Disadvantages?

First, being different to the other people in a group is often a difficult experience, especially when the others don’t understand why we want or like to be different, to do things our own way. Whether this is a disadvantage or an advantage is, I think, very much dependent on how much we want or need to belong to a group, to fit in.

Then, there are likely less opportunities that require the exact combination of our multiple expertise and experiences, but there are also a lot less competition for these positions. For example, a few years ago, I became involved in the review of a contract for the construction of a power plant in Algeria, where the contract was in French, the main contractor was Spanish (therefore had internal documents in Spanish) and supported by international financial institutions. This task required to fluently speak French, English and Spanish, know about EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) contracts and be able to review construction claims – only very few of us, within an international company, had the required expertise and experience.

However, there is a much wider range of opportunities when looking to use only some of our multiple expertise and experiences. For example:

  • Having experience of construction projects and scheduling, and speaking both English and Spanish, lead me to work in Gibraltar. Speaking French and having experience of fiber optic networks were irrelevant.
  • Having a MSc. in construction Law and Dispute Resolution, having experience of construction claims, knowing about construction technology in general and speaking English took me to a new position in Germany, and then to Canada. Speaking Spanish, having worked in several European countries on different types of projects were irrelevant.

Finally, with modernization of technologies, management structures and financing methods, and the need for the construction industry to be more aware of its impact on natural and social environments, there is definitively a requirement for many more “non-traditional” profiles…


I’m very much interested in what I’ve called “non-traditional” profiles, mixing several technical and non-technical expertise, multiple experiences, within the construction industry at large or even sometimes outside of it. I think there’re a great way to build-up a fulfilling career, especially for those of us who have several work-related interests, want to experiment… and they offer infinite opportunities to create our own space. However, as I said above, being different to the other people in a group can be a difficult experience.

Nevertheless, I believe the construction industry will need more and more people with such profiles to keep-up with the many technological and social changes happening in the world.

And now, I’d love to read about your thoughts on this topic!