The future of work is very difficult to predict. As the past year has demonstrated, changes to the world can happen at lightning speed. New jobs will emerge, whilst roles once considered essential will become obsolete. After all, by some estimates, 85% of the jobs that present-day students will hold in 2030 haven’t been invented yet. In the last couple of years alone, entire industries like cryptocurrency have boomed, and it’s certain that in the coming ten years, plenty more new industries will emerge to cater to the needs of societies across the world. So how can you prepare yourself for what’s to come? In other words, how can you future-proof your career? In this article, we cover 5 ways to ensure that you’re a top candidate whatever the future may bring for the world of work.
Commit to life-long learning
The world of work is changing faster than ever before. No one can predict the future, but we can future-proof our CVs by committing to learning throughout our careers, as knowledge will always stand the test of time. A number of successful people have publicly shared their love of life-long education – as Bill Gates said, “You don’t really start getting old until you stop learning.”
Consider doing an Executive Masters or following other accredited professional or advanced courses that will help you stand out from the crowd, allowing you to be more selective with roles and command a higher salary. Or if you have less time, look into shorter courses or workshops in which you could take part. Freeing up just a couple of hours a month will really add up over the course of a year. And one of the best tips to help you achieve your learning and career goals is to find a mentor. Mentors can share invaluable insights from their own experiences to provide you with guidance, and checking in with them regularly will provide you with the accountability you need to achieve your goals.
Build and grow your professional network
You never know who people in your network are connected to and the opportunities they are aware of. That’s why it’s so important to grow your professional network throughout your career and to maintain good relationships with people within your existing network, regardless of whether you are looking for a new job or not. People are more likely to help you if needed if you’ve maintained a good relationship over the years. As the classical business advice goes, “everyone should build their network before they need it.”
The best place to start in terms of networking is your LinkedIn profile, so make sure you have one and keep it up to date. Share posts about your accomplishments, engage with others when they take a new step in their career and send a message every now and then to catch up with people you have lost touch with. And as restrictions on physical gatherings are disappearing, consider attending networking events again as well. Having strong relationships with people within your network will help you out in the future, however the world of work changes.
Invest in hard skills
If you’re concerned about building a future-proof career in an ever-changing working world, a good course of action is to focus on building relevant hard skills that are set to increase in value. Hard skills are typically measurable, and you can often gain a qualification in them – whether a formal university degree, or an industry certification. Hard skills include working with particular types of tools and software, or being well-versed in a certain methodology.
According to a 2021 study by McKinsey, digital skills like data fluency, software use and data analysis will grow in value over the coming years. To future-proof your career, consider enrolling in a course covering digital skills. These are particularly beneficial because they allow you to add value beyond the capacities of automated systems and smart machines, helping you make the most of existing technology. You’ll also have concrete skills and certification to add to your resume, and you’ll know those skills will stand you in good stead for years to come.
Build relevant soft skills
Hard skills are measurable and quantifiable, while soft skills are somewhat vaguer – yet equally important. Examples include self-awareness, collaboration and empathy: essentially, skills that help you function at your best in the workplace, and that help you become a valuable team player. According to McKinsey’s study, soft skills like communication, problem-solving, leadership will grow in value in the coming years, perhaps in part due to the tumultuous experience of the pandemic. Employers will look for candidates who can demonstrate flexibility, humility and ability to learn– so they know that whatever the world throws their way, their employees will be able to handle the challenges.
Similarly, in 2021 and beyond, diversity and inclusion is an integral part of any company. As firms better understand how to make sure every employee feels valued and included, they will look for candidates who demonstrate conflict resolution, the ability to empower others, and strong interpersonal skills.
Remember all experience helps
Trying to predict the future of the workforce can be overwhelming, but there’s no need to stress. Remember: all experience that you’re gaining now will be valuable in some way. Take hospitality, for example. This industry has struggled extensively during the pandemic, but the skills gained by those who work in bars, restaurants and hotels will always remain important for employers. Strong communication, problem-solving capabilities, and the ability to think on your feet are all future-proof skills that will be needed for years to come.