How to discover a career in an era of digital change

By Robert Half on 10 October 2019

It is a common perception that artificial intelligence (AI) is a threat to global jobs. The power of technology to change the nature of work, and make some jobs obsolete in the process, is nothing new. Neither is the fact that technology can create new markets and career paths — and provide opportunities for workers to be even more productive and innovative.

To take advantage of the future job trends that these tech advancements will help to create, professionals need to have relevant skills. But how can you know what skills and abilities you’ll need to be marketable in the future? What steps can you take now to “future-proof” your career and decrease the likelihood of being replaced by a machine?

Here are some strategies that workers can use to help evolve their skills — and their mindset — so they can be prepared to take advantage of future job trends:

1. Anticipate tech changes in your workplace

One key strategy to future-proof your career is to try to anticipate which technologies your organisation is likely to adopt sooner than later.

There are several ways you can do that, from being an astute observer of technology trends in your industry to paying close attention to what leaders at your company are saying about the company’s goals for digital transformation.

2. Put your career development on the front burner

When businesses adopt new technologies and automate processes and tasks, they free their employees to perform other, more value-adding work. This is a great opportunity for professionals to shine, provided they’re ready to take more responsibility for directing their careers — and are working now to future-proof them.

However, many people don’t take a proactive approach to their career development and planning, and that could easily hurt them in the future.

If you feel like you need to jump-start your career development, reach out for help. Talk about your career aspirations with your supervisor, the human resources department, and valued contacts in your professional network, for a start. Participating in professional and industry organisations is another strategy for staying on top of technology and business trends that could impact your job or open doors to appealing new career paths.

3. Elevate your emotional intelligence

If you want to future-proof your career, don’t just focus on growing and refining your technical abilities. “Human skills” such as empathy will top the list of vital skills that workers and business leaders will need in the future. And demonstrating other forms of emotional intelligence, such as compassion and the ability to understand nuance, is one area where human workers have their AI counterparts beat — at least, for now.

No matter what future job trends unfold, it is likely that employers will still value abilities and qualities such as critical thinking, active listening, problem-solving and, of course, adaptability.

4. Nurture your inner leader

Work in the future will be self-driven to a large degree, and project-driven and team-oriented. To succeed in this environment, jobseekers will need solid leadership skills to direct themselves, their projects and others.

Also, some workers may find they are tapped for leadership roles in their organization much sooner than they may have expected because workforce demographics are changing so rapidly in China.

5. Be flexible and bold

Embracing flexibility is another key to success for professionals in the future workplace. As more organisations digitise and deploy advanced technologies like machine learning and AI to automate basic tasks, including some types of decision making, companies and workers will also start to look at jobs much differently.

Professionals will need to focus on building a solid mix of hard and soft skills if they want to future-proof their career.

Moving forward, you may want to focus on using your critical-thinking abilities to analyse how technology may change your workplace in the near term and spark future job trends. That includes examining how you perform your current work, and whether you could do those processes or tasks differently — and better — by applying new technology.

Will disrupting your own job with technology help to future-proof your career?

Quite possibly.

You’ll be stepping up to learn valuable skills and experience that can help you anticipate and benefit from future job trends.

At the very least, it could help you to avoid being disrupted by digital change unexpectedly.


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