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Jan 06 2020

How to future proof your career

From autonomous cars to artificial intelligence and augmented reality, technology seems to be evolving faster than ever before. In many ways, this can be exciting, with a limitless number of possibilities opening up to us as a human race.

Even business greats like Buffet, Musk and Gates all admit that is this is the most exciting time to be alive when it comes to how the world may evolve in the coming years.

But the speed of change both in technology and in the markets as a whole can also be incredibly daunting. With many fearing that they will not be able to keep up with the pace of  change and even that they may become obsolete if technology develops to fulfil the skills they have taken so long to perfect.

However, for those that truly understand these developments and what they mean for the future, these technologies and changes can actually bring a huge amount of benefit to their careers. In this article, we take a look at how we should approach our careers in order to future proof them.

Understand technology 

We have all heard the popular phrase:

“We fear that which we do not understand”

This is certainly applicable when it comes to future-proofing your career from developments in technology. It is not knowing precisely what technology is and how it really works that can have us wondering if it is going to negatively impact our jobs and careers.

By seeking to understand technology we can educate ourselves on what that really means for us. In any case, we will discover one of two outcomes:

  1. It won’t significantly impact our career
  2. It will have some impact on our career

The first result obviously eliminates any fear at all. But so too should the second, as we are not just learning that is will impact us, but we are learning how it impacts us. Therefore we are given an opportunity to limit, leverage or mitigate that technology as we see fit. 

Leverage tech, don’t fear it

Having a thorough understanding of tech allows us to work out how to leverage it to our advantage. A very obvious example of this happening in the past is the adoption of personal computers. At the time the personal computer launched there was a lot of fear and anxiety around whether they would end up ‘stealing’ jobs and ultimately taking over the world.

But as people began to understand the application of the new technology, they began to understand that they could leverage it to increase their productivity in everything from calculating finances to word processing.

Once you have spent time researching and understanding technology, it is worthwhile taking the time to work out how you may be able to leverage it to increase productivity or bring some other benefit to your work or life.

Develop strength in every position 

Knowledge is power. This fact will never change, regardless of the rapid developments in the markets and in technologies.

Building knowledge and insight in every position is a powerful way to cover all your bases as you move forward into your future career as a leader. This may be in the form of experiencing different roles associated with your niche, or it may be collecting or accessing the necessary information and data required to make expertly informed decisions regardless of which position you find yourself in. 

Introduce life long learning 

Lifelong learning is a popular concept that focuses on continuously improving your skills and understanding throughout time. It is based on the fact that you are never perfectly qualified and experienced for your role, but can always improve and adapt to a changing landscape.

In many industries, this is commonly known as Continuing Professional Development or CPD

This approach allows you to identify trends in your profession and seek to always be updating your skills in line with these trends. For example, a Marketing Director may have started their career during a time where most marketing was executed in print or TV ads. But through CPD they have adapted their skill set over time and now focuses on more modern marketing methods such as social media and search engine optimisation. 

Lifelong learning can be adopted by yourself as a leader and encouraged throughout your team in order to build an in-house skill base that is up to date and future proof.

Focus on human skills

The automation of processes through technology is leading to panic among many who believe their job is under threat. However, there is never likely to be a technology (not even Artificial Intelligence) that can apply human skills as well as a human

A good way to future proof your career is to develop and emphasise the skills that technology cannot replace. For example, interpersonal skills and empathy are invaluable when leading teams. Equally the ability to understand and translate customer needs to actionable requirements is unlikely to be able to be replaced by technology, especially in more complex industries.

Developing your skills for strategy and strategic positioning is equally a human skill that can help strengthen your career moving forward. Foreseeing potential challenges, gathering information on opportunities and deciding which is the best way to approach them is a skill which is valued now and is set to increase in value in the future.

Equally, good networking skills is another human skill which is invaluable for your future career. Being able to connect people and build your trust and reputation with your network is a good way to identify new opportunities for development.

Accept change

Fighting change will see you wasting a lot of energy on something which is often inevitable. On the other hand, accepting change quickly means you provide yourself with the opportunity to get ahead of the curve.

Being open to new development, whether they are technological, political, social or otherwise will ensure that you are always ready for whatever comes next. This not only limits stress, but makes you a very valuable employee.

As always, there are potential threats and opportunities for everyone in their future careers. By being open, seeking to understand, gathering as much information and data as possible and acting on it, you will put yourself in the best position to further your career.

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