How To Future Proof Your Career In An Evolving Employment Market
In 2002, Kodak was one of the world’s most valuable brands. They had the film processing business sewn up, employed thousands of people, made billions of dollars in profit and were second only to Sony in terms of digital camera sales. Kodak’s lens was pointed firmly at the future.
Fast forward to January 2012 and Kodak was filing for bankruptcy in New York. Weeks later on the West Coast, Facebook bought Instagram for a billion dollars, making multi-millionaires of just 13 employees. The product they developed was available to every person with a phone. And it was free.
What happened to the photofinishing industry in ten years serves as a cautionary tale against complacency among individual workers. If a corporate powerhouse like Kodak can be run out of town by a dozen geeks from Stanford, the rest of us had better stay on our game if we want to grow our careers.
A 2014 LinkedIn study – which gathered data from more than 2,600 employers around the world – illustrates the importance of adaptability in a volatile jobs market. The employers who reported the highest levels of productivity were those whose workforce was the most willing to adapt. The Netherlands, with its multilingual workforce and international portfolio, was rated the most adaptable country, while the more isolationist economic policies and lack of sector diversity in China left them trailing.
So what can you do to remain valuable in your industry? Let’s look at three key areas to help you future proof your career.
Know Your Industry Inside Out
Of all the words that strike terror in the hearts of workers, ‘automation’ is right up there with ‘cutbacks’ and ‘auditor’. Some reports estimate that close to 50% of current jobs will be automated within two decades. Keep informed of creeping computerization in your industry and you can identify potential flaws or learn new skills.
It’s possible you won’t like what you find out, so be prepared to change careers if you feel your industry’s days are numbered. Translators the world over must be quaking in their boots at the buzz surrounding Skype’s real-time translating software. A well-compensated career path may soon be consigned to history. But the technology was a long time coming. Only the chronically myopic or stubborn could’ve failed to see which way the wind was blowing.
Gain insight and foresight will follow. It’s not enough to learn the machinations of your industry in preparation for your interview. Stay abreast of the latest developments and you can put your career on the right trajectory.
Learn Market Driven Skills
It’s not enough to predict the curve – you need to stay ahead of it too. That means determining which skills are valuable right now and whether they will continue to be valuable in the future. These vary from industry to industry, but if there’s one catch-all skill that will be useful to practically everyone for decades to come, it’s coding. Even if your current role doesn’t require it, learning code gives you a fresh perspective on problem solving and provides insight into the fundamentals of the languages that drive our world. Learning html (at the least) is a good way to make technology friend not foe – and it’s a solid gold star on any CV.
With a huge range of tutorials and educational material information available for free online, software development is the most accessible skill to attain, but it’s not the only game in town. Other future-proofed skills include essentials like health and utilities, so be sure to focus on an area you get some job satisfaction from.
The Humans Aren’t Dead
For all the talk of the Digital Age encroaching on our hard-won skillsets, computers can’t touch our aptitude for creative problem solving. The most powerful computer on earth is nothing without a human operator (as evidenced by centaurs, the chess-playing human-computer combinations that perform better than either man or machine alone). The twin forces of computer processing power and human intuition are just as valuable in the job market as they are in the world of chess.
Computers represent ‘the extended mind’; they are tools to help store and process larger volumes of data than a single brain could ever handle. Mastering as many computer skills as possible will increase your employability. The more IT skills you have, the better you’ll be at automating certain tasks and dedicating the time you free up to the one task computers can’t perform: generating really creative ideas.
Categorised as: Career Development, Job Seeker Advice