How To Thrive in the Radically Changing Work Environment
Believe it or not, there was a time when people kept in touch via phone calls and letters instead of following each other’s updates on Facebook.
They purchased their clothes and groceries from brick-and-mortar stores instead of outsourcing their shopping needs to their Amazon Prime accounts. And if they wanted to watch TV, they had to be at home in front of their sets when their favorite shows aired. Otherwise, they’d have to catch a rerun, because the on-demand convenience of streaming hadn’t emerged yet.
If you’re like me, you may find yourself longing for those analog days from time to time. Oh sure, I enjoy being able to binge-watch the occasional Netflix series whenever the mood strikes, and on-demand car services sure beat waiting for a taxi in the rain.
But every once in awhile, my head spins from how quickly technology is reshaping our lives. There’s little we can do but hold on tight, though, because the times they are a-changin’ faster every day.
Technology’s Effect on the Workplace
As much as technology has changed our personal lives, it’s forcing even more radical shifts in the workplace. Just look at platforms like Slack, the messaging and project management service that’s been named the fastest-growing business app of all time. No longer do people have to hop on calls or schedule in-person meetings to collaborate. Co-workers can reach one another instantly, at any time.
An online presence is now a must-have, no matter where you are in your career trajectory. If someone applies for a job with my company and doesn’t have a LinkedIn profile, I assume they’re out-of-touch or have something to hide — not the impression you want to give a potential employer.
Advances in automation and artificial intelligence will further disrupt the workforce. Whether that is a good or bad thing depends on who you ask.
Pessimists such as SpaceX founder Elon Musk believe humans are unprepared for the havoc that will be wrought by AI. Optimists like engineer and XPrize Foundation founder Peter Diamandis believe AI will ring in an era of unprecedented opportunity and spur the creation of millions of new jobs. Then you have the folks in the middle, who think that the workforce will undoubtedly shift but that humans will ultimately benefit from the coming changes.
How You Can Thrive in the Changing Work Environment
Technological advances have always led to job loss in the short term but economic booms in the long term. Whether the Fourth Industrial Revolution will follow historical patterns remains to be seen, and the question marks we face can be unsettling. But one thing is clear:
To stay competitive in the evolving economy, you must prepare yourself for a workplace that looks very different from the one to which you’ve grown accustomed.
Here are some tips for getting ahead:
1. Educate yourself.
The U.S. education system is woefully behind when it comes to preparing people for the rapidly changing workforce. It’s up to you to keep your skills sharp and relevant. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are a great way to do that. Platforms such as EdX and Coursera offer free and affordable Ivy League-level courses in a wide range of subjects.
Companies such as Google and Amazon are even partnering with such services to develop training programs and recruit high-performing participants. A certification in a field such as data analysis or programming is becoming the calling card in the new economy. Google executive Astro Teller predicted that most skills currently taught in colleges will be obsolete within a few years. Candidates who seek ongoing education opportunities will hold a strong advantage over those who rely solely on their degrees to stay valuable.
If you’re enrolled in a four-year degree program right now, supplement your education with an MOOC. Block off time on the weekends or during holiday breaks to complete the extra coursework. You’ll set yourself apart from other graduates if you can tell employers that you have both a degree and an MOOC certification.
Begin to develop specific skills that are attractive to employers. Learn to speak their language, and align your gifting with the traits employers look for when hiring an employee. We want to help you get started, so we put together the Career Boost Formula.
2. Know your value.
Identify your professional strengths, whether those include software engineering, project management, or creative initiatives. Then look for needs in the marketplace. How does your skill set support companies that are trying to keep up with ever-changing technologies and consumer demands? Wherever your strengths and those needs intersect, that’s the sweet spot.
Go into job interviews ready to articulate what you bring to the company, what problems you’ve identified, and how you will help solve them.
Always be on the lookout for opportunities to go above and beyond at work as well. Volunteering for extra projects, initiating new ideas, and asking your boss for more responsibility are great ways to prove your worth and increase your value as you gain more experience.
The benefits of knowing your value are two-fold. Not only will you be a desirable job candidate and employee, you’ll also experience increased vocational satisfaction. One of the much-touted benefits of automation is that it’s allowing human workers to spend less time on boring, time-consuming administrative tasks and invest themselves in more interesting, meaningful work. The clearer you are on your calling, the more fully you’ll be able to take advantage of these tools, and the greater an impact you’ll be able to make.
3. Find a mentor.
Mentors serve as powerful allies as you navigate the professional landscape. They can guide you to opportunities you might otherwise have missed, offer insights when you’re trying to determine your next career move, and provide priceless — if emotionally challenging — feedback when you hit a rut.
Having someone in your corner who understands the trends in your industry and can help you prepare for what’s ahead is incredibly valuable.
Study the success stories in your field. Whose career paths do you admire? Connect with those people and ask what skills they use every day that they didn’t learn in college. Then go out and master those capabilities. There is no better way to advance your career than to learn from someone who has already surmounted the hurdles you’re sure to face.
That holds true no matter what your industry or experience level. Whether you’re a recent graduate just starting on your vocational path or you’re a seasoned professional who wants to stay ahead in the changing workforce, you’ll benefit immensely from working with someone who possesses the skills you want to learn and is willing to share their knowledge with you.
The most successful people do not let life happen to them.
They relentlessly pursue their goals, and they pay attention to what’s coming. Automation and artificial intelligence will bring unprecedented changes to the workforce. By being proactive and equipping yourself with the right skills, you position yourself to thrive in the new economy. Download the Career Boost Formula to get started!