How to Future Proof Your Career

How to Future Proof Your Career

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Just like pretty much everything else in life, the job market is completely unpredictable. The skills you may have today may become completely irrelevant within the next decade thanks to rapidly evolving technology.

However, you can take matters into your own hands by future-proofing your career so that you and your knowledge can remain relevant and valuable when your industry changes. Sounds tough? No worries. It can be done by taking the following measures.

Develop Your Future-Proof Plan

“Most people confront their challenges on the job through trial and error, accumulating the bruises and scars along the way. A better way is to create a future-proof plan to withstand unexpected challenges and stay relevant in the competitive world of work,” writes Jesse Sostrin, author of “The Manager’s Dilemma.”

Sostrin recommends that when creating your plan you “dial into the core elements that drive your success in three steps:”

  • Refine your vital purpose by identifying the skills that make you a valuable assist.
  • Clarify your value-added contributions, such as “the specific things you say and do that add distinct value and make you unique.
  • Identify your challenges, like the hurdles that make it difficult to complete your work.

Once you’ve created your plan, align that plan with “a team and organizational goals, conduct a real-time analysis of your performance gaps and show the true value of what you deliver on a consistent basis.”

Invest in Learning In-Demand Skills

What changes are occurring in your industry? Where is your industry headed? Are you equipped to meet these changes? Do enjoy where this trajectory is going?

Answering questions like these, and others, can keep you prepared for the constant changes that occur within your industry so that you’ll be prepared, and not blindsided when it comes to your attention that you no longer possess the skills required to maintain your position.

One resource to help you stay informed is LinkedIn. In the beginning of 2016, LinkedIn released a list of the hottest skills that can help you land a job this year. If you don’t have any of those skills, then this list will be a great place to start in updating your skillset.

Once you have identified the new skills you want to learn, you can enroll in an online course from a site like Udemy or Coursera to learn these new skills.

Adapt and Diversify

While updating your skillset is recommended, this doesn't mean that you have to completely shift careers. In fact, taking such a big leap isn’t the best way to maintain career mobility. Instead, you should be focusing on applying your skills somewhere new by being adaptable.

And, just like when you invest, you wouldn’t put all of your eggs into one basket. Take stock of the skills you currently posses and then look for areas in your industry where there are skills gaps. As mentioned above, staying on-top of industry changes gives you the advantage of transferring roles if need be.

Think Like an Employer

“Once you've identified a skillset worthy of picking up, understand what the biggest companies in your field are looking for and the skills they demand from their employees,” suggests Herbert Lui writes on LifeHacker. “Make sure your skillset lines up with what they want. If the big players want them, everyone else will too.”

While it may be an annoyance, keep tabs on buzzwords, identify job titles that include your skillset, and “tweak whatever you call your skillset according to what the job posting demands.”

Become an Expert in Self-Management

“Self-management covers everything from self-awareness to how we manage our financial stability on an individual level when we no longer work with a single employer for 20 or 30 years,” explains Jessica Lawrence, director of New York Tech Meetup.

Lawrence adds, “With freelancers predicted to make up 40 percent to 50 percent of the workforce by 2020, and all of us as individuals being challenged by technology on a daily basis to maintain attention and focus, we are now taking on more and more personal responsibility for the way that our work impacts our well-being.”

“While yes, in some cases our employer controls the hours that we work, we now make a multitude of individual choices about how many times a minute we check our email. Whether we sleep with our phones next to our pillows. Whether we even take the vacation that has been allocated to us.”

However, this also means that we can no longer rely on our employer “to take care of us, to provide some sense constant security.” That’s something that we have now become responsible for, in what Lawrence calls “individual economic resilience.”

“Creating this resilience for yourself involves the work of compiling a toolkit of compensatory skills that allow us to move in and out of various types of employment, from freelance to full-time work, while maintaining some semblance of economic stability.”

Create/Update a Professional Online Profile

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a majority of employers are turning to social media sites like LinkedIn to recruit talent. In fact, only 4% of recruiters aren’t using social media as a part of their efforts.

If you haven’t done so already, then it’s time to finally create a professional online profile. Not only will this keep you notified about any changes in your industry, it’s also an excellent way to network and discover new opportunities.

Whether you already have a profile or you are just starting out in your chosen career, you can tweak your LinkedIn profile by;

  • Only use a professional image for your profile image.
  • Don’t leave any sections of your summary blank.
  • Customize your LinkedIn profile link.
  • List all of your professional skills.
  • Share any interests.
  • Include keywords in your headline and summary.
  • Join relevant LinkedIn Groups in your industry.

Having an optimized LinkedIn profile can increase your visibility and connect you with the people in your industry.

And, don’t be afraid to put your LinkedIn profile in a few unexpected places like your email signature and also as an addition to your business cards for more exposure.

How have you future proofed your career?

About the Author

John Rampton is an entrepreneur, investor, online marketing guru and startup enthusiast. He is founder of the online payments company Due.

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