“What do you want to do when you grow up?”
We all remember answering that familiar question in our youth. (Some of us even answer it as adults!) Yet coming up with a viable answer is getting tougher for the up-and-coming generation of workers, and even workers interested in making career changes. After all, it’s hard to predict your dream job if doesn’t have a name yet, which is increasingly the case.
Consider this: The World Economic Forum (WEF) predicts that 65% of children born today will pursue careers that currently do not even exist. Further, the WEF predicts that 35% of the skills required for jobs today will change by 2030—just 11 years away. Scary, right? But also full of opportunity, albeit unknown opportunity.
This leaves many of us faced with the prospect of preparing for non-existent jobs that will depend largely on yet-to-be-determined skills. When we consider this, the future of work can seem uncertain. However, this fast-paced change is not an entirely new phenomenon. In fact, jobs have always come and gone or morphed over time. For example, when was the last time you saw a help-wanted ad for a switchboard operator or an ice cutter? There was even a time when everything was done on pen and paper; in other words, desktops, laptops and cell phones didn’t exist.
What is changing more quickly is that new jobs requiring emerging skills are fast becoming the rule, as opposed to the exception. The reality is that, whatever your age, occupation or aspirations, the stable, well-worn career paths are starting to vanish. To succeed in the future will require a proactive approach to honing certain skills that will have lasting value in the evolving job market.
Regardless if you are a job seeker, a happy employee or a business partner of Adecco, here are three things you can start doing today, to prepare for the unknown jobs of tomorrow.
1) Get better at teamwork.
There will be fewer solo acts in the future of work. While the trend toward remote workers will likely increase, technology’s growing ability to connect us in real-time, combined with demands of the marketplace, will make strong collaboration a key skill. The shift is already well underway. A Harvard Business Review study found that in 2016, the time managers and employees spent on collaborative work had jumped by more than 50% in the past 20 years. To set yourself apart, look for opportunities—both in the workplace and out—to team up with others to get a better result.
2) Develop certain soft skills.
To go along with more collaboration is the need to develop soft skills such as communication and emotional intelligence. Failure to communicate is already a pressing problem at organizations. A survey of 400 companies with more than 100,000 employees each cited an average loss of $62.4 million annually for each company because of poor communication to and between employees. Improving your communication skills is an ongoing process. Focusing on being a better listener and taking public speaking classes to get more comfortable presenting to an audience are sure to help. Mental Floss recently offered 11 tips for advancing communication skills.
3) Become a critical thinker.
Technology is changing so fast that the focus is shifting from learning broad-based technical skills to having the capacity to quickly master a technology in ways that help you work more efficiently or strategically. The emphasis here is on developing your critical thinking so you can find fresh ways to solve problems and quickly adapt to new challenges. Success Magazine had some great advice on how you can strengthen critical thinking by focusing more on self-reflection, becoming an active listener and developing foresight about what may lie ahead.
So what do you want to do when you grow up? In the brave new world of jobs, the familiar answers of the past will largely fade away. The right answer might well become “I’ll know when I get there,” with the focus on growing skills that will always apply to every opportunity.