Sixty percent of Americans worry that automation is putting their jobs at risk, and 39 percent believe their current job will be redundant within five years, according to PwC’s Hopes and Fears survey.
However, new positions that do not exist today will replace some of the jobs lost to automation. However, if your job is at risk, it’s a good idea to have a plan B.
“The only thing we can predict is the unpredictable,” says Scott Steinberg, author of Think Like a Futurist 2022: The Next Normal. “At this point, things move quickly and change from week to week. When we talk about the “new normal”, we must be aware that it will not be one, but many. While many events are beyond your control, you can always steer things towards a more positive outcome,” he adds.
Your first task is to gain situational awareness. Alarms should immediately start ringing in your head if your work is easily reduced to something that can easily be described on paper and done by anyone else, or consists of routine tasks that can be performed by some technological tool, be it robots or artificial intelligence. If this is the case, there are a few strategies to protect yourself.
Not every job is at risk, and companies will always need proactive problem solvers as well as dynamic thinkers and creative innovators, Steinberg says.
“There are things you can outsource to computer programs and algorithms, but those things are largely routine, boring, and predictable,” he says. “When variables come into play, the human element comes into play and trumps technology. If you want to prepare for the future, you need to think about how to offer something irreplaceable,” he advises.
Steinberg says that at work, it’s very important to stand out visibly so that others are aware of the value you bring.
“Maybe you’re the one everyone in the office turns to when they need inspiration, creativity, and new ideas,” he says. “Or when a problem arises, maybe you’re the one who’s willing to step in, take charge, and do something. It’s about finding opportunities to showcase your talents in a way that you don’t get in other people’s faces and support your team,” he adds.
Expand your skills
See yourself as a “work in progress” thinking about what skills will be in demand in the future. Steinberg advises acquiring what he calls “resilient” skills. These are abilities that can benefit you in a variety of situations and industries. For example, if your job is in the field of communications and it requires you to use critical thinking and problem-solving skills, then those same abilities can benefit you if you become a business analyst.
“People who are highly successful may have deep knowledge in one area, but they also have a wide range of interests and experiences that they can use in different areas,” says Steinberg. “They are constantly trying to acquire new skills, new contacts, new relationships, and new experiences,” he adds.
One way to find out what organizations will need in the future is to look at job postings. It’s also good to pay attention to startups, academic research, and topics that are popular at conferences and events.
To acquire elastic skills, Steinberg suggests actively seeking out volunteer work opportunities or work opportunities at emerging startups, where you can gain knowledge about new technologies, trends, or business models to use in various other fields.
Be open to back and side movements
The most successful people don’t try to climb the corporate ladder or ride the corporate escalator to the top. “That escalator is broken, and the rungs of the corporate ladder are starting to look shaky,” Steinberg says.
Instead, be prepared for lateral moves, meaning a position that has equivalent rank or pay to your current workplace. You may even have to take a step back, accepting lower pay and a place in the hierarchy to get new opportunities. “What happens when you take a step sideways or backward is that it often creates a slingshot effect that can propel you much further in the long run,” he explains.
If you want to secure your professional future, you should always think several steps ahead. “It often seems to us that the future comes quickly. However, this is because we ignore it for a long time. The problem is that people tend to prefer routine and familiar approaches. However, they drive them into ruts. Either you’ll be on the crest of the waves of change, or you’ll be swept away kicking and screaming by it. I advise people to get their surfboards out,” says Steinberg.