Last week I wrote about future-proof jobs or professions that won’t get outdated due to automation. Those kinds of jobs are great for those who happen to be in those particular fields. But what about those who aren’t?
Don’t worry. There are some steps that you can take that will ensure that you remain relevant and marketable in the age of digitisation, artificial intelligence and automation. Here are 10 things you can do to future-proof yourself.
1. Accept change
It is human nature to resist change. We all get into our comfort zones and we don’t want anything to disrupt us. But the constant march of technology will spawn new business models that will disrupt our way of doing things. In some cases, jobs will be lost forever because that sector is no longer viable. But if you understand and accept that change will always come, you’ll be in a better frame of mind to weather those changes and be able to ride the wave rather than be wiped out by it. By accepting the inevitability of change, it will open up your mind to the other nine items in this list, below.
2. Become tech savvy
Technology has pervaded all aspects of our lives. We have no choice but to become tech-savvy. By that I don’t mean that everyone has to learn computer programming. But it does mean not being a technophobe who shuns digitisation at work or in everyday life. Far from it, you must embrace new digital and online tools and learn how to use them to improve your productivity. It means starting to use mobile apps and online web services to do the things that used to be done offline. It also means not being afraid to use new gadgets and devices that are also meant to improve your productivity.
3. Embark on lifelong learning
As technology changes and continues to disrupt existing business models, employees need to keep up to date with the times. Gone are the days when you could study something at the university and get a secure job for life. Many companies are starting to embrace online learning to continually upgrade their staff. But if you want to future-proof yourself, you really shouldn’t rely on your company to provide you with lifelong learning. There are so many online learning sites that you can subscribe to for that. Best of all, they don’t cost very much. There are also plenty of free resources online. These days you can really learn whatever you want just by going online. The main challenge is getting yourself into the habit of continually educating yourself.
4. Embrace the gig ethos
Freelancing used to be for the bold – people who weren’t afraid of non-steady income. Today, it’s quite commonplace for young people to be freelancers and the nature of work has made freelancing more viable than ever before. Of course for those who are naturally more risk averse, being a freelancer might be a daunting thought but the harsh reality is that in an ever competitive marketplace, companies are starting to go light on overheads and prefer to hire freelancers when they can. Realising that, accepting it and embracing it will free up any anxiety you may have about losing your job. It probably helps to start doing some freelance work by the side while you have a steady day job. This will allow you to earn some extra income for a rainy day but more importantly, it will give you some experience in freelancing.
5. Think globally
The Internet and mobile technologies have made the world a much smaller place and it’s getting smaller by the day. Today, it’s possible for two people on different continents to collaborate on a project just by using a video communication tool like Skype or Whatsapp and some collaboration software like Dropbox or Google Drive which will allow both people to work on a single document or file. Cloud services have also made it super easy to transfer and share even huge files over the Internet so even things like collaboration on videos are possible. With that in mind, you shouldn’t just think of work as a local activity but something you can do internationally with peers and clients from all over the world.
6. Hone soft skills
Computers are amazing. They can calculate things at lightning speed and with Artificial Intelligence, they can even learn to adapt to new situations and offer solutions without human input. But one thing they can never have is the human touch. Soft skills like empathy, leadership, good communication, hospitality, geniality and sincerity are things a robot could never exhibit no matter how much programming is put into it. For that, you’ll need a real life human. Employers will always want to keep employees who get along well and inspire colleagues or who provide great customer service to clients. This is true regardless of whatever line you are in.
7. Get creative
Time was when business people could focus on business and hire creative types to do the kind of work that requires imagination, artistry and flair. These days, businessmen need to think out of the box even for things like business models and financing. They can’t just do things the old way. The market is too competitive. To differentiate their business and to get a leg up, they need to be creative in everything they do. In other words, businessmen have to start thinking like artists.
8. Become entrepreneurial
Just as businessmen need to become more creative, creative types have to become more entrepreneurial. Whether you work in graphic design, video production, music, media publishing or anything that involves artistic work, you have no choice but to be entrepreneurial because the old work models for content creators are not working anymore. Content creators cannot just rely on broadcasters and publishers for work as these companies are starting to cut back to save costs. As such, content creators need to start leveraging online platforms to get published and get paid for the work that they do. The great thing is many of these platforms are free. Many social influencers for instance are making their living publishing content on free platforms like YouTube, blogs, Facebook Pages and Instagram. They have learned how to monetise their traffic to make a good living out of it. That’s why it pays to be entrepreneurial.
9. Build your network
Networking was important even during the pre-Internet days. But today, it’s even more crucial than ever. In an ever competitive market situation, the more people you know, the more deals you can strike to make things happen. Networking can and should be done both offline and online. Good old-fashioned networking at events and business meetings is still important, but so is online networking. LinkedIn is particularly useful for business networking. But even Facebook, Instagram and Twitter can be ways to get to know new people in industries that you’re a part of. You never know when someone in your network might be able to help you with something crucial.
10. Develop resilience
In this ever-changing, highly competitive world that we live in, where business models are being disrupted all the time, you will go through some ups and downs. No matter how prepared you are, there might be times when you feel that all is lost. You’ll need to develop strong resilience to get through such tough times and be the one still standing despite the rumblings all around. With fortitude, you’ll be able to survive and even thrive in the new economy.