Dear Matt: I really like my job, but as technology advances I’m worried if I can keep up, if this career will be eliminated or how much it will change in the next 5, 10, 15 years. What advice do you have on planning for one’s career future in an uncertain workforce?
Matt says: I think every one of us wonders what the future holds. I know one thing — it’s going to change, and we all have to adapt in our careers to advance, find success and happiness. It’s safe to say the job you have now could be greatly different in the near future. You may even have the same title with the same company, but processes and technological changes are sure to change the way things get done.
I graduated from college and worked as a sportswriter in Wisconsin and Iowa; I now manage a website for a large accounting firm. While it may seem like a drastic change, many of the same skills — writing, editing, communication and project management — are used, but I had to learn new technology through my own training to move forward.
This is the case across all industries. Look at administrative assistants: Years ago they were stereotyped as someone who just answered phones. Today that job requires advanced computer/technical skills previously never expected or available. The world’s smoothest-talking sales person now has to use databases for tracking and following up on leads. Look at manufacturing and construction — technology and new equipment keeps changing that industry — and employees and business owners are constantly adjusting.
The good thing? There’s a proven path for navigating the complexity and uncertainty of our new work landscape. That’s explained in greater detail in the book “Own Your Future: How to Think Like an Entrepreneur and Thrive in an Unpredictable Economy” (amacombooks.org) by Paul B. Brown. The book shows professionals at all levels how to think and act as entrepreneurs do in order to create the perfect job. It’s filled with stories of wide-ranging professionals who have adjusted and benefited from this new way to look at work. It offers inspiration, motivation and practical advice on becoming entrepreneurial in thought and action.
“We’re not all going to become entrepreneurs,” Brown acknowledges, “but we must all still think and act the way that they do. In today’s uncertain world, this is the surest path to achieving what we want — in work and all aspects of life.”
Start adjusting now. Take on new projects at your current job. Be open to new challenges. Go to Lynda.com to watch online video tutorials to help you learn software, creative and business skills. Change the way you think. And if you need more ideas and inspiration, check out Brown’s book.
Contact Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org.