Lynda Gratton, author of The Shift: The Future of Work is Already Here, has an excellent post that summarizes the key points of her new book and outlines the 10 things you can do to future proof your career:
- Know the trends that are shaping work and careers.
- Learn to be virtual.
- Search for the valuable skills.
- Become a Master.
- Be prepared to strike out on your own.
- Find your posse
- Build the Big Ideas crowd.
- Go beyond the family for support.
- Have the courage to make the hard choices.
- Become a producer, rather than a simple consumer.
While all of these are important, a few are particularly critical
Become a Master at the Valuable Skills
I'm combining two from Lynda's list, but think there is real potential here. The key to career success in the future is going to be understanding the kinds of skills that will really be in demand and then becoming a master in those skills. I would start with this list of skills and think long and hard about which of these plays to my core strengths. I would then look at ways I can develop my skills in those areas, possibly for some specific high growth industries, so that I become a hyperspecialist.
Be Prepared to Strike Out on Your Own
Lynda calls this being a "micro-entrepreneur." We are seeing incredible growth in contract work/freelance opportunities that I think is only going to speed up as companies see ways to get more work done better, faster and cheaper by going to freelancers. Just as companies have begun outsourcing key functions that are not core to their business, I think they are going to start thinking about how even core business processes could be outsourced intelligently. Again, this HBR article on hyperspecialists is well worth a read because it lays out a future that I think is just around the corner and that lends itself to contract work.
Learn to Be Virtual
This is a biggie. Work is global and the rise of tools that allow us to work from anywhere is having a huge impact on how things get done. The recession only accelerated this process as companies and individuals looked to reduce travel costs by using video chats, instant messaging and other social media tools to fuel collaborative work across space and time. Those people who understand how to use these tools effectively will be in the best position for the future.
Build Your Networks
Lynda suggests three networks that will be necessary for the future--your "posse," the "Big Ideas Crowd" and those "deep restorative relationships" that will support you throughout your life and career.
I think we're looking at a couple of different types of people in your "posse." First are those people who can mentor and advise you. The second are people with skills and knowledge that complement your own. This is particularly important for micro-entrepreneurs. Find people who have complementary skill sets so you can work together to find opportunities. This is the way that virtual ad hoc work will be done and the better you are at forming a network of people who complement your skills, the more opportunities you will have.
The Big Ideas crowd is also important. These are people who stimulate your thinking, who can be a crucial source of inspiration. This crowd should ideally be people who are NOT in your line of business. They should be people who think differently and come from different industries and occupations. Don't fall into the homophily trap.
Although not specifically on Lynda's list, lifelong learning is critical to future proofing your career. It is the learners who are going to rule the world because they will be in the best position to see trends and find opportunitities in those trends.
- More info and resources on The Shift here.
- 5 Questions to Ask Yourself if You Want to be a Career Untouchable
- 10 Tips for Creating a Personal Learning Plan
- The Positive Professional Development Series
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