What will your job look like five years from now? Will it even exist in five, 10 or 20 years? And what will happen to the organisation and industry you work for? Many roles are becoming extinct, being replaced by technology while brand new roles are popping up every day. And, as I outlined in my last blog post Career Development: Skills Needed for the Future Workplace the types of skills and capabilities being highly sought after are also changing.
With the world of work changing at an ever-increasing rate, trying to predict the future of work is impossible to get right. You may not be able to future proof your job, but you can future proof your career. Future-proofing your career is simply taking the extra steps to prepare yourself for a changing workforce, so you have the skills to fit the unknown jobs of the future.
Here are seven career development strategies you can use for future-proofing your career:
1. Become a life-long learner
Marshall Goldsmiths iconic leadership book “What got you here won’t get you there” has never been more relevant. You cannot rely on your past results to take you to the next phase of your career. Continued career development is all about ensuring you remain relevant.
Audit your current skillset and consider the skills that could boost your long-term employability. Once you’ve identified those areas of improvement, develop a personal learning plan to structure how you will gain those skills.
Seek out opportunities to learn. Take on new responsibilities and put yourself forward for new roles. Attend training courses and other development programmes. Find a mentor. It’s all about taking control of your career, so spend time identifying where you want to go and what you need to do to get there.
2. Think globally
With the evolution of technology, increase in remote work, and rise in global networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, organisations operate more globally – and are more culturally diverse – than ever before. Chances are that your co-workers, clients and stakeholders work throughout the world. A global workforce means dealing with people of different languages, cultures and backgrounds.
The more experience you can get of working with them, the more confident you’ll be. This will make you more effective in the workplace of the future.
Develop your ability to work globally by learning about diverse cultures. Ask for assignments that give international exposure or connections. Become more familiar with the geographic regions that pertain to your job by reaching out to members in those countries too. The more you learn about how people work internationally, the more comfortable you will be working in the global marketplace.
3. Put energy into your online brand
As we become more able to work globally and virtually, so the significance of our digital reputation will become more important. This will provide opportunities for individuals to progress, regardless of race, gender, religion or location. Organisations will assemble quality teams based on their digital track record, without ever meeting in person. Research your online brand. Consider how it positions you and differentiates you against others. Ensure your online profiles including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn reflect how you want to be perceived by your professional network.
4. Keep a “Success Journal”
Keep a record of what you do well, the accolades that you’ve received, and the results that you’ve been responsible for. Employers want to know what you’ll do for them, and it’s easier to recall your successes and strengths when you have an accurate, up-to-date list to hand.
Start by tracking your achievements and listing the professional development you’ve completed. List any training that you’ve attended, note any volunteer work.
It’s also a great idea to keep your performance reviews and any relevant emails here, both the good ones and the bad. Use this success journal to record your strengths and successes, and to affirm your qualities. You can refer to these when you need a confidence boost or if you want to narrow down your specific areas for development.
5. Build your professional network
It is important to take time to develop relationships with people within and outside of your organisation. These people can be invaluable support as the landscape of work changes. You can learn tips and tricks from inspiring leaders, as well as boost your exposure for new opportunities.
If networking is something you’re not over familiar with, LinkedIn is a great starting point. Join professional groups, access training webinars, and check in with former colleagues. Other ways to build your network include joining online forums and professional associations. You can also take part in industry events and activities.
Just remember that the success of networking relies on quality not quantity. Adding contacts to your network via LinkedIn and Twitter is the easy way to grow your network. But it doesn’t tell you how healthy your connections actually are. You should focus your networking efforts on building relationships with people.
6. Understand the future of the industry you work in
Understanding the future of your industry is a major factor in future-proofing your career. Everything that happens in your industry will likely impact the organisation you work for, as well as your role.
Follow changes and trends in your profession, your industry, and the wider economy to keep informed. Aim to work in industries and for employers that have a positive outlook and long-term sustainability. You can keep up to date by reading quality news and your industry publications. Consider the political, economic, social, and technological changes shaping its environment. Always be ready, and even welcoming, for the possibility of a role-change or even a transition to a different industry.
One key strategy to future-proofing your career is to try to anticipate which technologies your organisation is likely to adopt. There are several ways you can do that such as observing technology trends in your industry. You should also pay attention to what leaders are saying about the company’s goals for digital transformation. For example, there’s a good chance AI solutions are coming to your organisation soon. Since future-proofing your career means being able to work with artificial intelligence, you’ll need to be fluent in those technologies.
7. Be flexible and open to new opportunities
Embracing flexibility is key to success in the future and to future-proofing your career. As more organisations automate basic tasks, companies will start to look at jobs differently. Work in the future won’t be defined — or confined — by your role or job title. It will be based on people’s increased ability to apply their own unique set of skills, knowledge and talents to their work.
Throughout your career, you’ll be presented with new opportunities. There will be job offers, event invitations and mentoring possibilities. You will be asked to make presentations, carry out volunteer work, and respond to requests for advice. Being open and adaptable will allow you to absorb new skills and make you more employable.
If you’re looking to develop your career you may benefit from our Career Compass Workbook. It’s a workbook to help people think positively and proactively about their career development. Prepare effectively for career conversations with managers, mentors or coaches with all the tools and templates needed to reflect on the past and think about the future.