The world of work is changing fast, and these changes are impacting the way we live, work, act and interact. Technology is one of the major drivers for these changes, and following and interpreting these tech trends can actually help you predict career trends and respond to them accordingly.
How so? By spotting how consumer behavior changes, as this is the driver for the type of products or services companies offer. In turn, employers are looking for certain skill sets to meet those changed consumer requirements in order to stay relevant.
There’s a reason why we have seen such a big focus on customer experience over the last few years. Now, with more competition than ever before, customers are in the driver’s seat and have so many choices. Products and services are quickly replaced by “the next big thing,” and it happens more often and more frequently than ever before.
Think of smartphones and how they have changed the way we do everything. Still, some predict that smartphones, as we know them, won’t be the same with the rapid evolution of smart devices, artificial intelligence and augmented reality. The Internet of Things is fast-forwarding how we consume information, how we interact and also how we live.
Companies who ignore early signs and rising trends will no longer be relevant, and the same goes for your career — there are certain trends you can’t ignore, and the quicker you can respond and adapt to those changes, the better off you will be.
While we couldn’t predict a pandemic, there are some trends and changes we can see coming before they are actually here.
1. Certain tasks are being automated.
The World Economic Forum reports that companies are looking to accelerate the automation of tasks as a result of the pandemic. That shouldn’t be a reason to worry though. New jobs arise from those changes, and people are needed to manage the new systems and processes, using creativity and a variety of soft skills (which are also called power skills for a reason — they can be applied in any industry or profession because they are transferable, timeless and unique to humans.)
2. The ability to upskill and reskill is increasingly important.
With those changes and shifts of tasks, new roles are created all the time. Many of them have not even been invented yet so continuous learning to meet demand is critical if you want to stay relevant.
If you think the only way to do this is to go back to university, think again! With the speed that changes arise, seeking out micro-credentials and short courses is often enough and more efficient.
3. More competition requires leaner operations.
With more access to information and, with that, more choice, companies have to rethink their operations and streamline as much as possible to keep the organization lean and competitive. This could mean companies hire more experts and on-demand staff rather than full-time employees. This trend is supported by the growing gig and freelance economy.
Building a portfolio career is the perfect way to get started because it enables you to test things out and experience for yourself where your strengths are and what you like while you upskill and build a diverse network. So don’t just pitch yourself as a full-time employee. Position yourself as an expert in your field and make yourself visible to decision-makers on relevant platforms, in particular LinkedIn.
Based on these three trends, there are three things you can do now to increase your value for the future of work:
1. Learn from relevant futurists.
There are signals before the actual change happens. Futurists track the signals for years prior to predicting a trend. Follow futurists from your profession and industry but also look for ones in a more holistic and general field, like work trends, the economy, etc.
2. Pay attention to macro-influences.
Outside of the larger trends I mentioned above, there are plenty of macro-influences like technology and economic or demographic changes — these have already affected your current role and have the potential to impact it further.
Once you see a pattern, list possible ways to combat it. Are there certain tasks that are getting more and more redundant? If so, what other tasks have picked up and how can you improve on them even further?
3. Take the initiative before you’re told.
Based on trends you’re seeing and experts’ predictions, start today with taking action. Maybe you conduct informal interviews with people who work at the company or industry you want to get into. Perhaps you enroll in a short course. Or maybe you want to try before you buy and immerse yourself in a project where you can develop your skills hands-on. Start somewhere.
Being able to look around the corner and read between the lines is going to be a critical skill set in the future of work. To future-proof yourself today, join relevant organizations, follow thought leaders and subscribe to regular newsletters. The best (and only) way to deal with a crisis is to see it coming and prepare for it!