Technologists race to “fail fast and break things.” The pandemic is an accelerant, creating ripe conditions for adopting new ways to work, live, ship, deliver, and more.
Meanwhile the American political system lumbers along, deliberate by design but also increasingly dysfunctional. Now, we have a widening gap between the rapidly approaching future and the legacy systems struggling to understand and shape the positive and negative human consequences. For example, what exactly is at stake with the Metaverse? Don’t get me started.
If the “future of work” means anything, it means job churn will be rapid, especially in the lowest income levels. As the cashier occupation erodes, the on-demand delivery driver is in high demand. Meanwhile, managing a career strategy is work and can be overwhelming. People leave high school and college mostly unprepared for all of this.
Any future vision for a thriving career comes down to daily or weekly habits you consciously break or make. Minor adjustments can make a big difference.
Worse, U.S. workforce development programs are designed to get unemployed people back to work as soon as possible. They are not designed to support proactive career strategies. So, while CEOs call for upgrades to U.S. policy, people are essentially on their own.
Yet, there is plenty an individual can do. And, with historic leverage for employees, this is a great time to create a career strategy. To this end, please find curated expertise to help with your Future-Ready Resolutions, organized in five themes:
Do some due diligence
Sheila Ireland, deputy secretary of Workforce Development for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, received advice as a young manager that she keeps in mind: “A good idea is not enough, not even for the brightest bulb with the best idea. If the context, the characters, and the available resources are not understood, an idea is not worth much. Ask questions, do some research, find out what has been tried before, and why it was abandoned or failed. Then, proceed accordingly.”
Curate your content
Evaluate how you use time because it is easy to waste. Find time to read, watch and listen to information that feeds lifelong learning. Any future vision for a thriving career comes down to daily or weekly habits you consciously break or make. Minor adjustments can make a big difference.
Erica Barreiro, Future of Work Strategist for Central New Mexico Community College, offers tactical advice: ATS-friendly resumes. Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is very common. ATS-friendly resumes help candidates get recognized by hiring systems that companies use to find qualified candidates.
When technology enabled on-line, digital applications with a click or two, HR departments became overwhelmed. ATS sorts resumes according to keywords set by the employers trying to hire. ATS software reduces the deluge but can also be a real barrier if a qualified applicant’s resume is missing just a single keyword. There are ways to ensure your resume is ATS-friendly, so do some homework.
Sure, but how? For starters, unplug more often and turn off notifications. Enjoy periods of solitude and even silence. Neuroscience has proven that meditation benefits the heart, mind and body. Then, you can take this advice offered by Helen Richardson, an experienced career coach from our region:
“ ‘Future-ready’ means knowing the truths about the changing world that are important to you, and then asking the right questions. For example, if you value equity and inclusion, ask, What can be my contribution towards a more equitable and inclusive workplace or community? What shifts do I need to make in my old beliefs?”
Richardson continues with a timeless gem: “Everybody is not going to like you. If you fear negative reactions, you’ll be forever held back, looking for approval. Trust yourself and do what needs to be done.”
“If you value equity and inclusion, ask, What can be my contribution towards a more equitable and inclusive workplace or community? What shifts do I need to make in my old beliefs?” says Helen Richardson.
Ryan Sullivan, a workforce of the future pro from CFGI believes leveraging our humanity as both employees and leaders offers advantages. “Embrace being human—create connection with others, nourish relationships with trust, and care about people.”
Truly, nothing is more human than empathy and other emotions. Emotional intelligence, or “EQ” is essential and quantifiable, says Veronica Scarpellino, founder of Goldfinch Leadership:
“One key future-ready skill is being emotionally intelligent, in-person, virtually and in writing. The human advantage is relationships, creativity and collaboration. These essential skills are not static. They can be learned and strengthened to establish value, even as technology advances.”
Scarpellino also offers a mythbuster:
“Do not fear a zig-zag career. Embrace your trials and failures because they provide growth and new insights about the best next move. Once you have clarity of purpose, the ‘zig-zag’ can take you on an incredible journey that, looking back, makes perfect sense”.
Grow and Improve
“Be it your company, a process in your company, or yourself, continuous improvement is how to stay relevant and avoid obsolescence,” says Surinder Sharma, CEO of Smart Kidz Club.
Easier said than done. One cannot grow without the courage to recognize a weakness and then commit to work on it.
“Adopting a state of ongoing curiosity prepares you to embrace change and is the cornerstone of a future-ready mindset,” says Megan Haupt who specializes in storytelling for resume writing. Haupt also advises you “think globally” about your career in a work-from-anywhere world.
Andreas Jacobsson, of Ework Group in Northern Europe agrees: “Skills can always be taught, but you really need a learning/unlearning mindset, or growth mindset. We need to dare to fail fast, learn from it, and still stay curious.”
Thank you to the many more expert colleagues who generously shared advice in 2021. Best wishes for inner peace and the courage to embrace the “zig-zag” in 2022.
Future Works Alliance is hosting a deeper dive into the related topic of entrepreneurship on January 27. The book talk will feature two local expert authors, Alex Hillman and Orly Zeewy. Registration is here.
Anne Gemmell is the founder of Future Works Alliance, a mission-driven consulting business that provides forward-thinking leaders with solutions to effectively address the challenges and seize opportunities in the future of work. During her tenure at the City of Philadelphia, she led the future of work policy response and designed the PHL-PreK program.
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Header photo by UX Indonesia on Unsplash