What will the future look like? You’ll get as many answers to that question as there are experts to ask, with predictions ranging from the green and retro to something closer to a robot-filled sci-fi flick or the frankly apocalyptic. But whoever’s right, you’re young, and probabilities dictate you’re going to be around to see whatever it looks like.
That’s exciting… and terrifying.
So, short of getting out your crystal ball or trusty copy of Nostradamus what can you do to prepare, particularly in the realm of work? As you’re probably still early enough in your working life to make changes or alter your trajectory, you’re in a great place to future-proof your career.
Here are some suggestions on how to go about it:
Forget out-of-date career models
Careers are over and jobs are totally last century. The unsettling death of the traditional career path and the end of long-lasting compacts between employer and employee have created a need for new models of work.
Biz school professor Lynda Gratton has stepped in the gap with her book The Shift: The Future of Work Is Already Here, predicting a future of virtual, global and highly skilled but piecemeal work. Among her recommendations: master your core skills, learn to work remotely, build your network and don’t expect to rely on big companies. Check out her ideas in more detail here.
Cultivate a flexible core
Sure it pays to have mastered marketable skills, but some experts feel that with such an uncertain job market, it’s also important to have a strong basis of core abilities to draw on if the market changes.
What do they have in mind? Things like information search, influencing without authority and tolerating ambiguity.
If you’re a more active type who isn’t satisfied with simply maximizing your flexibility and preparing for uncertainty, consider more hands-on options, like scenario planning.
Scenario planning, or informed, structured storytelling about the future, is common for big organizations but can also be applied to the individual. Here’s how it works. Plus, it seems sort of fun.
Betting on individual jobs as future-proof is a tricky business, but there is some consensus about general job market trends. Often they boil down to being irreplaceably human – think teachers and nurses – or riding the high-end technology skills and creative thinking wave that computers won’t soon replace.
Also, with an aging population in many countries, healthcare seems like a popular bet. In uncertain times, entrepreneurialism also offers some protection.
It’s bound to be a wild ride. But prepare, hopefully it’ll be enjoyable for you.
And of course it should be noted, as the old song says, the children are our future. Cheesy maybe (OK, definitely), but true. As the youngest generation of workers, we have the ability not only to prepare for the future but also to influence it.
Are you worried about the future of your career and, if so, how are you preparing for uncertain times ahead?