Four steps to prepare yourself for career shifts

No matter what your job is, it’s likely your career will be disrupted at some point by workforce or technology shifts, health issues, disaster or even another pandemic.

For more stability during such times, here are some steps you can take now:

1. Start thinking about multiple career paths   

Consider the skills and knowledge you have. Could you build a portfolio that allows you to earn income from a variety of sources so you’re not reliant on one job? Would these sources be diverse and resilient to the next major shift? What alternative career paths or business ideas could you keep in your back pocket?

Forbes’ Why It’s Time To Consider A Portfolio Career describes those most suited to multiple career paths as being ‘multipotentialites’. Perhaps you have a nine-to-five office job with a technical trade up your sleeve and an online part-time business to fall back on. Should you lose one occupation, could you retain financial stability through another career path?

2. Pay attention to the future of work

“Will automation replace my job?”

If you have not yet researched this, now might be a good time. However, let’s not be alarmed. According to Deloitte’s report The Future of Work is Human, even though some jobs are likely to be made redundant, automation and artificial intelligence are expected to generally create as many jobs as they eliminate.

For example, labour-intensive jobs can expect to see a shift in the demand of skills, from physical tasks to the programming of advanced automated systems and equipment. Foundation for Young Australians’ The New Work Smarts explains that teachers could utilise automated systems to mark assignments, allowing more time to focus on student interaction, while jobs that didn’t exist a decade or two ago, like Social Media Manager and App Developer, are fast becoming apex career opportunities.

You could start investing in the skills that are less likely to be made redundant: as outlined in Deloitte’s report, that’s interpersonal and creative skills rather than manual skills.

3. Connect with others

You may be surprised how helpful your professional contacts can be.  Explore opportunities to bounce off others within and beyond your circle. Connect with groups of similar interests, register to attend an event, enrol in a course, create or update your LinkedIn profile, or research experts and people you aspire to be like and follow them. If it gives you support, advice, information, new skills or business opportunities, it’s a worthwhile investment of your time.

4. Explore ways to learn and grow

Research the training that your industry, or related industries, will require along with the pathways to gain the skills that will be in demand. Ask experts what they did, or  take a look at the My Future guide How do I develop new skills? for some advice on options for up-skilling or re-skilling.

Make pursuing knowledge a regular habit and realise that, if you’re not being challenged, you’re not exploring your potential capability.

The key message is “be proactive”. Explore ways to enhance your ‘toolkit’ with the skills that will be most sought after. Become adaptive, innovative and diverse. These are all important fundamentals in building career stability and prosperity.

Take time to think about where you are now. How future-proof is your career? Are you prepared for the next major shift? Will you take these steps now and prepare yourself for tomorrow?