Principal Consultant, Career OverDrive!
"I'm worried (anxious, unsettled or flat-out scared) about my future. What can I do to protect my job or career and my future? And more specifically what skills should I be focusing on?"
This is one of the most frequent questions I get from not only new graduates and mid-career executives but also from current students and for very good reason -- the labor markets are changing on a daily basis.
Not only are the labor markets being impacted (flooded) by the continuing globalization (and easy access) of talent but they are also affected by the ever quickening development of technology-based productivity namely: software, algorithms, factory automation, expert systems, 3D Printing (although it's a very nascent industry and technology) and so on.
On top of that, many jobs and industries that were normally protected either through the presence of asymmetrical information (legal, real estate, recruiting, etc.) or regulatory capture (venture capitalists, brokers, banking, taxi drivers, hotels, etc.) are finding themselves under assault as both technology and nimble, steel-nerved startups which are highly attracted to above market returns offered in these captured markets which together in concert are working to ultimately "free" this information and break the regulatory capture and the rent-seeking corporations and incumbents that have worked to protect these markets. What startups would these be? Well, think of names like Craigslist, Uber, Airbnb, Kickstarter, Redfin, and AngelList among many startups.
So what is the answer to the original question? Well, to start with we should heed some advice from Canadian hockey great, Wayne Gretzky.
"I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been."
-- Wayne Gretzky
A good hockey player doesn't concern himself where the puck is. A great hockey player is concerned with where the puck is going to be and then works to position himself to be there before the puck is.
Therefore, wherever we are in our careers or in our career path, we need to look out at what we might expect our industry (automotive, information tech, food, pharma, banking, etc.) and functional area (sales, marketing, accounting, finance, customer service, engineering, etc.) to look like 5, 10 and 20 years down the road. In particular, we need to consider what social, market and technological trends are on the horizon.
One thing we should all be able to see very clearly and is that not only is automation of all industries and facets of society increasing but we seem to have reached an inflection point where given the huge world population and the ability to quickly tap into needed skill sets and/or engage in wage arbitration, technology is now eliminating more quality jobs (define quality, I know...) than it is creating for the current labor pool. This requires any candidate or person in the current labor pool to skill up in value-add skill sets (will take later what those skill sets should be).
It's hard to believe but if you could just think back (or Google) just a few decades ago word processors weren't ubiquitous and in many cases they weren't even around. In fact, in the early 1980's if you wanted to write a resume you typed it, on a typewriter (remember those?) and that often meant paying a typist to do that. The same thing happened for graduate and post-doctorate papers or theses. You paid someone to type it.
ATM's were not ubiquitous either. Some people didn't like using them. They were optional. Email in the corporate world was quite new, if it was used at all. In fact, many of the large companies was allergic to email even up to the late 1980's/early 1990's and would distribute paper-based (hard copy) memos and documents and then send a separate email - which no one would read. And the list goes on. Telex, faxes, voicemails and so on.
There are two main groups of skills needed:
A) The skills to do the job and keep the job
B) The skills to find a job opportunity (or create one) and package, present and close on that job.
A) Jobs Search Skills:
1. You need the skills to do the job.
2. You need the skills to find the job.
3. You need the skills to land and close the job.
4. You need the skills to maintain and keep the job.
5. You need the skills to plan and manage your career.
B) The Skills To Do The Job: (broad level skills, but we can get more granular)
1. Communication skills
2. Negotiating skills
3. Influencing skills
4. Persuasion skills
5. Assertiveness skills
6. Leadership skills
As an added bonus, I would suggest:
7. Critical Thinking and Analysis skills
8. No Box Thinking skills