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Broken Crystal Ball? 4 Ways to Future-Proof Your Career

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What will the future look like? You’ll get as many answers to that question as there are experts to ask, with predictions ranging from the green and retro to something closer to a robot-filled sci-fi flick or the frankly apocalyptic. But whoever’s right, you’re young, and probabilities dictate you’re going to be around to see whatever it looks like.

That’s exciting… and terrifying.

So, short of getting out your crystal ball or trusty copy of Nostradamus what can you do to prepare, particularly in the realm of work? As you’re probably still early enough in your working life to make changes or alter your trajectory, you’re in a great place to future-proof your career.

Here are some suggestions on how to go about it:

Forget out-of-date career models

Careers are over and jobs are totally last century. The unsettling death of the traditional career path and the end of long-lasting compacts between employer and employee have created a need for new models of work.

Biz school professor Lynda Gratton has stepped in the gap with her book The Shift: The Future of Work Is Already Here, predicting a future of virtual, global and highly skilled but piecemeal work. Among her recommendations: master your core skills, learn to work remotely, build your network and don’t expect to rely on big companies. Check out her ideas in more detail here.

Cultivate a flexible core

Sure it pays to have mastered marketable skills, but some experts feel that with such an uncertain job market, it’s also important to have a strong basis of core abilities to draw on if the market changes.

What do they have in mind? Things like information search, influencing without authority and tolerating ambiguity.

Play futurist

If you’re a more active type who isn’t satisfied with simply maximizing your flexibility and preparing for uncertainty, consider more hands-on options, like scenario planning.

Scenario planning, or informed, structured storytelling about the future, is common for big organizations but can also be applied to the individual. Here’s how it works. Plus, it seems sort of fun.

Go human

Betting on individual jobs as future-proof is a tricky business, but there is some consensus about general job market trends. Often they boil down to being irreplaceably human – think teachers and nurses – or riding the high-end technology skills and creative thinking wave that computers won’t soon replace.

Also, with an aging population in many countries, healthcare seems like a popular bet. In uncertain times, entrepreneurialism also offers some protection.

It’s bound to be a wild ride. But prepare, hopefully it’ll be enjoyable for you.

And of course it should be noted, as the old song says, the children are our future. Cheesy maybe (OK, definitely), but true. As the youngest generation of workers, we have the ability not only to prepare for the future but also to influence it.

Are you worried about the future of your career and, if so, how are you preparing for uncertain times ahead?

Jessica Stillman is a freelance writer based in London and is the author of BNET’s Entry-Level Rebel column.

Brazen powers real-time, online events for leading organizations around the world. Our lifestyle and career blog, Brazen Life, offers fun and edgy ideas for ambitious professionals navigating the changing world of work.

  • Tony

    I agree with what is in this article, but I’m not sure you really emphasise the importance of networking. I work with a lot of people who are early in their career and they really have no idea how networking happens or why it’s important. In my experience it’s those that network well who get the promotions and the calls from other companies. Plus if you are out of work it is just critical that you already have a good network in place

    • http://twitter.com/mycolleges MyCollegesandCareers

      Good point re: networking, Tony. I heard a stat recently that 55-80% of jobs that were filled were found through a person’s personal network. Yes, networking requires, time, effort, and a degree of discomfort. But the proof is in the pudding. -Sarah

    • http://bookkeeperscanberra.com.au/ Tom @ Bookkeepers Canberra

      I agree with Tony and Sarah – the Power of networking is not to be underestimated. Even if it is just notifying one of suitable opportunities, is it useful. Let alone when one’s network can offer professional references or has the power to decide who is to fill a vacant position.

  • http://www.glasyads.com Free Classifieds

    Hi,

    This is the good point, I accept with sarah. Now a days networking requires time, effort, and a degree of discomfort. But finally proof is in the pudding.

    Thanks,
    John

  • http://www.digitalworx.in website company delhi

    i think working on your strengths and and also improving upon your weaknesses will stand you in good stead in all times be it present or future. I must admit that working on your networking skills is important today and will be important in future as well.