3 Ways To Future-Proof Your Career

A realization that we haven’t made the smartest of career moves might have dawned on many of us when reading the news this week. Experts have predicted that 10 million British jobs — which equates to one in three roles — could be taken over by computers and robots.

Whilst honing our skills to make sure we are indispensable in the workplace is still essential, it’s equally important to remember that we are competing against computers as well as people. If you want to make sure a robot couldn’t do your job in the future, it’s vital to future-proof your career now.

Choose a Low-Risk Career

It goes without saying that some jobs are more at risk of automation than others. The positions that are at the highest risk are those in the sectors of administration, sales, transportation, construction, mining, energy and production.

When it comes to choosing a “safe” job, careers in healthcare have consistently proved to be among the most resilient. When the recession hit in 2008, healthcare jobs ranked among the most recession-proof careers. New research also lists the healthcare sector as one of the “safest” fields, along with computing, engineering, science, law, education and financial services.

Create a Professional Online Profile

You can’t argue with the facts. Ninety percent of employers are using social recruitment tools like LinkedIn to source talent and 78% of recruiters have hired through a social network. Having a fully developed online profile and an established network of contacts is a vital way of engaging with your industry. As well as keeping you alert to changes and new opportunities in your field, it’s a great way to get noticed by employers should it come to that in the future.

Start creating a professional profile online by building up your online personal brand to strengthen your authority in your chosen career field and make sure that you look the part. Once your social media profiles have been perfected, learn how to network effectively on social media. Launching an online portfolio or blog to showcase your work, whether that’s website designs, articles on key trends in your field, or even just a presentation about you and your skills, can also be a good move.

Adapt and Diversify to Survive

You don’t need to go back to school and change your career completely. However, being willing to adapt and able to diversify is essential to future-proofing your career. A recent study from PwC, which explores the need for better alignment between talent and opportunity, cites the need for individuals to be willing to embrace change and apply their skills in new places.

Take stock of your skills. Sixty-three percent of CEOs say availability of skills is their primary concern, so find areas where skills gaps are emerging in your sector and invest time in learning how to fill those gaps. You wouldn’t put all of your funds into one investment and the same rule applies here. When the time comes to make a change, you’ll have the skills in place to transfer roles. Adapt, diversify and survive.

About the Author: Ron Stewart has worked in the recruitment industry for 30 years, having owned companies in the IT, Construction and Medical sectors. He runs the Jobs4Group, and is CEO of Jobs4Medical.

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Happy Interdependence Day

I used to love that little Volkswagen Bug, the little Love Bug named Herbie that many early Gen Xers like me remember vividly. Herbie, the do-good little car with a mind of its own; a driverless car that helped Dean Jones win many races and save the day. Over and over again. Movie after lovable movie.

However, someday in the near future, fleets of driverless cars may displace millions of paid drivers in the global marketplace. Not the “Herbien” vision of buddy-work I remember from my childhood.

Think about it from this perspective, according to The Economist, employment in agriculture used to provide almost all the jobs in the pre-modern era, but now only accounts for 2% of rich-world employment. Based on that trajectory, jobs in today’s manufacturing and services industries will most likely be forced to “retreat before the march of the robots.”

Think about it another way – futurists Ray Kurzweil and Peter Diamandis predict that 200 of the Fortune 500 companies will go out of business in the next 10 years. They say it’s not because of bad management, customer service or quality of the product either. It’s because the product or service will become obsolete due to how rapidly technology and computing power continues to increase at an exponential rate.

After all that, segue to the one question American journalist, columnist and author Tom Friedman, who was one of the keynotes this year at the 2014 SHRM Conference, always gets from people he first meets:

“How’s my kid gonna get a job?”

Those of us with children who’ve been paying attention to the technological tea leaves know this future is today, not tomorrow.

Tom pointed out in his keynote that the biggest change of the 21st century was the merging of IT and globalization – how the world is now so completely hyper-connected (actually hyperactively connected) and has nearly the same computing power and technology tools, and Internet access available to individuals that used to only be accessible to private enterprise and governments.

He called this a “Gutenberg-scale” moment — really, really big. The world’s individuals can now compete, connect and collaborate with one another like never before.

But imagine that you have billions of competitors, regardless of your status or profession, because that’s where it’s headed (if not already there). If we don’t continuously relearn and reimagine while being relentless in failure enablement, we’re doomed. Simply and utterly doomed. White collar, cognitive skills are now in danger. Average is officially over.

Painful I know, but then Tom said something that really stuck with me:

“No one cares what you know. They only care about what you do with what you know.”

And whom you do to it with and how you do it with them. Really. Even with the rise of the robots and continuously human reinvention and optimization, collaborative interdependence is where companies, at least for the next few decades, are going to be winners.

This is why new research from Bersin by Deloitte is so exciting; it shows that the talent management market grew by 17% last year and is now over $5 billion in size, because companies finally understand that “talent optimization” is key to their business success.

According to Bersin, the fact that the “world of corporate learning is entering a new cycle of innovation: MOOCs, new LMS technology and highly interactive digital content is forcing companies to rethink their L&D strategies as well.”

It’s all about having highly integrated and interactive talent systems that aren’t just for HR anymore – they’re for the entire organization – the employees, managers and the leaders. Tom Friedman’s final 5 points underscored this and were summarized this way:

  1. Always think like a new immigrant and that opportunity abounds and is ours to own by leveraging people and resources around you
  2. Always think like an artisan and “carve your initials” into your work – leave your mark again and again
  3. Always be in beta – get 80% there and let her ride while rapidly rethinking, relearning and reengineering with vigor
  4. Always remember that PQ (your passion quotient) and CQ (your curiosity quotient) will trump IQ when combined with everything else
  5. And lastly, always think like a waitress – be entrepreneurial and enterprising with every interaction and transaction you make (again leveraging the people and resources around you)

No pressure, right? Happy Interdependence Day.

Maybe someday soon I’ll have that Love Bug after all where I’ll be happily driven to tears.

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