How to Stay Employable in the Fourth Industrial Revolution and Industry 4.0
It's one thing to tell you that there is a solid chance that you will lose your job or have it severely reduced in the coming years but that doesn't help you. Here are some reasonable steps that you can take to help ensure that you remain employable as current and future technological shifts play out.
So How Are You Going to Stay Employable
If one thing has become clear to you by reading this site and other materials is that things are changing, they’re changing fast, and if you don’t do something about it you can quickly find yourself in a difficult situation. Since we all understand this basic premise, what are we going to do about it?
There are a few basic principles that apply to everyone (freelancer, employee, student and entrepreneur) that will help you navigate the changes of the employment and economic markets. So here they are in quick bullet fashion, if you have any questions feel free to shoot me a message.
- Build Dynamic Deep Skills: Theses are skills that you are an expert at and have cross application to numerous industries. Too many people have coasted by in life doing a little bit of everything and never having mastered anything. This makes them very ill suited to doing anything well in an non-contracting employment market but renders them unemployable in a contracting market where lucrative spots are scarce. Choose two to four skills to become absolutely amazing it where you could lead a project or a portion of a project with that skill. I know this is a bit vague for some people so shoot me a message.
- Build Soft Skills: work on your interpersonal skills, self management and general management so that you are better prepared to step into various projects or companies with more social and managerial competence. Notice I wrote self management in here. Before you even think about giving orders out to other people to tell them what to do, you need to learn to give yourself orders and keep yourself accountable. You can't lead a company, team or anyone for that matter if you can't lead yourself.
- Build Hard Communication Skills: Learn to write concisely and effectively. I can't stress the importance of this point enough. Now more than ever, people will meet your words before they ever hear your voice or meet in person. Set aside 15 minutes a day to improve your writing in a meaningful way. Chose diverse topics to read something about and then starting writing something about it. Think about it. Imagine how amazing your writing skills will become if you can write about something you just learned and that you had no interest or knowledge of 20 minutes prior.
This portion is dedicated to staying employable and economically viable. This will become a larger part of the site as time goes on but I wanted to get something solid up while I work on the rest of the site. I've started out by listing what are the core principles that you need to master in order to ensure your economic survival.
For the Freelancer
Freelancers should consider carving out strong niche markets for their services as the freelancer market continues to become more crowded. Finding niches that are hard to just jump into with higher barriers to entry are always preferable. Even if you're making solid money as a graphic designer, writer, consultant, strategist or something else you should think long and hard about creating a defensible product offering that your current clients can only get from you.
You should also take into account that you will be facing pricing pressure and you will have to start competing over price on non-niche projects are more freelancers enter the market. Keep in mind that while there are a good portion of freelancers who are voluntarily entering the market there will also be a larger number of people enter the market by because they were let go. Sorry to say it, but this means more competition for your bread-and-butter jobs.
Oh, did you forget that you will likely be competing against tech platforms as well?
For the Employee
As an employee you face a very difficult (but surmountable) task. You need to stay focused and excellent at your current job and at the same time educated and prepare yourself for the jobs of the future. But you might be thinking...what are these jobs of the future? That's an excellent questions!
Unfortunately there isn't a one size fits all for employees. It really comes down to what industry and where you are exactly in the company. However, that doesn't mean you are without options just waiting for the pink slip to come one day.
Take look at this the sectors most at risk for automation below and see where your industry and profession stack up relative to others. If you are in a highly exposed industry, it wouldn't be a bad idea to look for a job in one of the safest industries while you start improving your skills and making plans for the future.
You should also check out Are You A Target For Automation.
For the Student
Students would be well advised to build up their technical skills before they enter the workforce, data science, programming, machine learning, writing and foreign languages will be the best insurance for a prosperous future. I'm not saying that you have to major in computer science by any means (but if you can swing a double major with it why not?) but I am saying that you will seriously regret not adding those skills to your resume.
Having technical aptitude is something I and most other entrepreneurs looks for in new hires. We want individuals who can be flexible throughout the organization and who are well versed in the technologies of the future. Employees who understand the technologies of today and tomorrow will be the all the difference between companies succeeding, innovating and growing. If you can't offer an employer that you will have have to work exceptionally hard at differentiating yourself in other ways to compensate for it.
Recap: get some technical skills. It just makes your life easier.