It’s no secret, but gone are the days of the working the same job for your entire working life. Though school often teaches that we must specialize and pursue a specified career pathway, the truth is that these pathways are subject to evolve in order to keep up with changes in technology, the economy and society at large.
Because of this, there are many jobs today that didn’t exist only a few years ago and there will be even more jobs in the future that we can’t fathom today. In fact, statistics already demonstrate that millennials are moving into completely different jobs than their parents had worked their entire lives. It’s likely the same will be true for future generations, as the rate of change in technology continues accelerating.
In a Forbes article about the future of work, Bernard Marr points out,
“At least 30% of the activities associated with the majority of occupations in the United States could be automated, which includes even knowledge tasks that were previously thought to be safe according to a McKinsey Global Institute report.”
Taking into account current research and cutting-edge technologies, some researchers and scientists are imagining what are jobs that might exist in the future. Jobs such as “de-extinction geneticist” or “child assistant bot programmer” all the way to “cricket farmer” are all within the realm of possibility.
But it’s more than just the job titles themselves that will change, it’s also about the work environment, tasks and tools used in the jobs. Younger generations are already re-defining “work” and re-shaping how businesses operate. For example, younger employees value flexible work schedules and environments. They’re accustomed to using technology on the job and they easily adapt to new tools and processes.
Younger generations also set the priority for the future of businesses. More and more, applicants are looking to work for companies with a social cause. They want to make a positive impact with their work and crave overall job satisfaction. All of these pressures are forcing businesses to re-think the roles and work within their organizations, which also contributes to the evolution of career pathways.
Thanks to all of these changes, there is increasing pressure on current employees to keep up with the ever-changing workplace and potentially have to change jobs and maybe even careers.
So, how can anyone prepare for such career uncertainty?
1. Know yourself well
This is the most important part of developing a successful career that can adapt and pivot with the changing times. You have to know what are your passions, your strengths and your weaknesses in order to find a job that fits your personality. Too often, skills that come naturally to us we take for granted and forget to highlight in our résumés.
So, make a profile for yourself: define your careers goals, your passions, your skills, and what sort of job environment you thrive in based on your personality. If you need help clarifying answers to these questions, try taking personality tests as Meyers-Briggs, enneagram, or DISC assessment.
With this information, you will be ready to evolve whenever change affects your job. A solid basis of self-awareness means you will be able to sort out job applications based on what you want and can do, so that you can find a new job or pivot careers altogether.
2. Focus on developing skills for the future
Because training and education don’t yet exist for jobs of the future, many employers will take up the task of training their employees. So when looking for a new job or switching careers, your past qualifications won’t matter as much as what skills you bring to the table.
So, throughout your career, work on developing concrete skills that apply to a wide range of careers. Master skills you already have and don’t be afraid to branch out and hone new skills on the job. Pay special attention to developing skills related to future technologies, so that you can easily transfer from one job to another.
The point here is that many people overlook the valuable skills they have, because it was simply a part of their job. The past focused so heavily on education and training first, so we’re all used to leading with our occupation and letting that title speak for our skills and abilities. In the future, however, it will be more necessary to articulate what skills you have in order to move into new jobs and even career fields.
3. Make yourself global
Also a by-product of technological advancement, the world has become ever smaller and economies more interconnected. For this reason, businesses will seek workers who can participate in the global economy. It’s about more than just speaking another language, it’s about understanding other cultures and how to work well with people of different backgrounds.
Even within organizations, the future is less about top-down hierarchy and formal structures as it will be about sharing ideas and innovating as part of cross-functional teams. So, it’s important to be a global employee who works across divisions and departments and can work flexibly in positions all around the company.
To become more global, use duolingo to practice a new language and new way of thinking. But, more simply, travel to new places — within your organization, your city and beyond — to meet people from different backgrounds than your own. And stay up-to-date with current events and read more international news. This will help you stay ahead of future trends and anticipate shifts in business.
4. Never stop learning
The single most important trait for the future of work is to keep up with the changes in technology. To do this, it’s simply required to keep up with knowledge and skill development. No longer can we avoid or simply check out during company trainings; rather we must seek out these opportunities and engage in learning for the sake of learning outside of work too.
Again from Bernard Marr’s Forbes article, he writes,
“Individuals will need to act and engage in lifelong learning, so they are adaptable when the changes happen. The lifespan for any given skill set is shrinking, so it will be imperative for individuals to continue to invest in acquiring new skills. The shift to lifelong learning needs to happen now because the changes are already happening.”
In the future, it won’t be necessary to go back to school to earn full degrees in order to be qualified. Instead, learn online using sites like Coursera and Udemy or even using tutorials on Youtube. Expand your network by connecting with experts on Linkedin. Attend conferences, seminars, and in-house trainings in order to stay ahead of the curve. And, most importantly, be an avid reader of all subjects, because in the future specialized knowledge won’t be as important and the ability to synthesize information across disciplines.
It’s easy to feel frightened by the rapidly changing world. Change is difficult and we humans are naturally averse to it. But, it’s also exciting when we know that we are in control of our fate and our future career, regardless of what changes occur. If we stay connected to the act of learning and evolve right alongside the changes in technology, we can adapt and pivot quickly when tools, processes or entire jobs become obsolete.
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