Reorganizations, layoffs and new (bad) bosses, oh my! It seems like every day I hear about people who were in stable jobs they thought they’d have for a long time when their work situation is disrupted and they found themselves feeling unprepared for a newly uncertain future. Most of the people I hear about have not taken action to create a future proof career. Today it was a government worker who thought she was in a job for life, until she learned she had two hours to clear out her desk (along with about 1000 other workers, nothing personal.) Now, I am a coach so I am probably prone to hear more of these things than the average bear, but these anecdotes track with what I’m reading about the workforce and the job market in general. Change is a-coming, even if it hasn’t already hit you, personally.
[For more insight into the impact of automation on the job market, check out my recent webinar.]
Here’s a short, 10-minute video with my core advice for how to future-proof your career.
Working with clients, and looking at trends has led me to streamline my own thinking about how I recommend people succeed in their current jobs, while also preparing for an uncertain future by building a future proof career. I realize that most people feel challenged on two levels, their career plans and themselves (i.e., their mindsets and work-life identities.) I’ve made two short videos on YouTube with my best advice for how to future-proof yourself on both of these levels. Below are some summary notes on the key points above. I’ll publish the other video on your personal mindset on a future post (but here’s the YouTube link if you’re curious.)
Here’s the short version. To prepare a future proof career for yourself ask, ‘what does future proofing mean?’ It means you have to be ready for the unexpected and have a “Plan B” in your pocket but without being paranoid (easier said than done, sometimes, I know!) Here are the three components of a future-proofed career:
- Be ready for disruption: If your company is acquired, if competition puts your company on the defensive or if a hurricane (or an artificial intelligence bot) wipes your job away, you’ll be glad you gave some thought to executing a Plan B. The key is not to become paranoid while you’re planning; to continue enthusiastically pursue success in your current position while getting your ducks in a row for alternative plans.
- Understand future trends: Even if you’re in a solid position yourself, your customers, partners and vendors will be affected by disruptive changes and your success will always be partly a function of how well you understand future trends and help plan for them.
- Upskill yourself: In the future, more and more jobs will be augmented by technology (vs. being replaced completely by robots), so it’s important to connect the future trends you anticipate to the specific skills you’ll need to succeed in the workforce of the future. Get an upskilling plan together and start making incremental, regular steps forward to future-proof yourself by gaining the knowledge, experience, technical-and soft-skills you need to succeed no matter what happens to your job. The worst thing that happens when you do this is that you create more opportunities for yourself in the years ahead.
Now can you “be ready” for disruption, especially when many of them (like hurricanes and AI bots) are hard to see coming? I know that there are challenges to all three of these recommendations. Here are my recommendations to addressing these challenges:
- Be curious and get smart about the future: Pay attention to industry trends by subscribing to some publications that watch future trends. You don’t have to read every article, but even watching the headlines will tap you into trends and reading an article now and then will keep you up to date. Go to conferences and meetups every once in a while to share information with others in the same industry (or the industry you want to move to someday.)
- Do a mock job search: The best way to find out what skills you should be developing or refining is to do research on your dream job. Go look at job requirements for jobs you think you’d like in the future. Read the requirements, talk to some recruiters and others in your network to understand what other companies are looking for. This will make you smarter about how you can prepare for your next job change (which happens to most of us, on average, every 3-4 years) and you might accidentally create a great opportunity for yourself while you’re at it.
- Check in with yourself regularly to see if you’re ready for a new challenge: Even if you decide you like where you are for now, by doing some career planning and visioning on a regular (i.e., quarterly or annual) basis, you’ll be able to start preparing yourself well in advance of an actual career move. You won’t get easily blindsided by unanticipated changes in the office or at home and you’ll better leverage your current position to help you plan for your future job.
I hope you enjoy the video on how to create a future proof career. Also I hope you’ll learn more about the InPower Coaching Future-Proof Community and how we can help you make progress on the items above.