Updated: Sep 25, 2020
As we speak, talent acquisition specialists, sourcers and recruiters are hiring for roles that didn’t exist 5 years ago. For many of us, it can feel impossible to protect our employability, especially when we can’t be sure of how our existing roles will change, which jobs will become obsolete and which new jobs will be created.
With the future of work well and truly upon us, is it even possible to prepare for jobs that don’t exist? Yes, it is.
In fact, here’s how.
1. Sharpen your Interpersonal Skills & Embrace Design Thinking
Very often, talented IT professionals do not get their dream job due to unpolished interpersonal skills–NOT lack of technical knowledge. If you’re trying to secure a cybersecurity job, ask any CISO what he or she is looking for and they’ll likely list off a number of interpersonal skills with a sprinkle of technical ones. They may encourage you to practice being a better communicator, critical thinker, presenter, consensus-builder, workshop facilitator, or collaborator (learn more). Employers know that technical skill will ensure someone does their specific job with accuracy, but it’s a polished set of interpersonal skills that enable employees to thrive, get promoted and drive revenue.
Ever heard of design thinking? If not, it’d be in your best interest to get familiar with it asap! Adaptive challenges (problems we’ve never seen) will be more prevalent and prominent in the years to come. Design and computational thinking (attack skills for complexity) are essential to securing the high-paying jobs of the future. Design thinking speaks to the ability to walk into new situations and know what to do, where to start and how to approach the challenge. This requires iteration, development of solutions and analyzing possible outcomes.
2. Stay Humble and Curious
It’s extremely difficult to keep up with the technological advances disrupting the world as we know it. We get it! Once you wrap your head around one groundbreaking tool, another one pops up. That said, it’s vital that you stay humble as you do your best to stay on top of current trends, tools and changes relevant to your profession.
Why “humble”? Because there is no way you will ever know EVERYTHING there is to know about a topic area, so take a few deep breaths and don’t get frustrated if you feel you don’t know it all. You can do so by reading tech blogs, reports from consulting firms that work with companies that interest you, journals and news articles. If reading is not your thing, watch videos, listen to podcasts, participate in online discussions, and even attend events like hackathons, workshops, seminars, and conferences. No matter your preferred learning method, it is imperative that you stay curious.
3. Expand your knowledge of cybersecurity, automation, and machine learning
This is so important. Sooooo important. So much so I will say it again and again: keep your eyes peeled for new trends and emerging technologies that will lead to skill or knowledge gaps. If you’ve been doing this you’ll agree the future of work will include some level of expertise in the areas of cybersecurity, automation, and machine learning.
Wondering what your next step should be? Take action to level up! In other words, seek and invest in upskilling opportunities, whether it be via a hands-on apprenticeship, a technical training, or YouTube videos.
Another underutilized resource is your direct manager (and/or your company’s HR department). Don’t be afraid to ask your employer for help. You may be happily surprised when you discover your job has a “continuing education” budget that could pay for the classes of your choosing. One way to future-proof yourself is to become a subject-matter expert in a skillset that’s in emerging demand. To a large extent, you will learn the most from “getting your hands dirty,” so say “Yes!” to new opportunities that push you out of your comfort zone and provide hands-on training. Your mission is simple: Be as adaptable and widely employable as possible.
Although we’ve been talking a lot about the future, this future is not distant. The future is here. In the last year, companies have hired professionals into roles like Blockchain Security Consultant, Machine Learning Scientist, Incident Responder, and more. Companies are looking for employees who are curious, motivated, humble and can quickly adapt to the rapid pace of innovation. The “jobs of the future,” and the exact skills required to perform these jobs, are constantly changing. This will always be the case. One thing you can be certain of, however, is that you will need to expand your interpersonal skills along with your technical skills all while remaining humble and curious. And while disruption in the world of IT is indiscriminate and inevitable, becoming a sought-after professional is simply 3 steps away. =)
- Pamela M. Rosario Perez
Connect with Pamela via LinkedIn