In Linda Gratton’s new book, The Shift: the future of work is already here, she talks about the forces that will shape work and careers in the future and what we should do to build a career that will stand the test of time. Her ten top tips are here:
1. Don’t be fooled into walking into the future blindfolded. Keep abreast of the forces that are shaping work and careers in your part of the world and think about how they will impact on you and those you care for – don’t rely on governments of big business to make the choices for you.
2. Learn to be virtual. Work will become more global and that means that increasingly you will be working with people in a virtual way – it’s crucial that you learn to embrace these developments and don’t let yourself become obsolete through lack of technical savvy.
3. Search for the valuable skills. Think hard about the skill areas that are likely to be important in the future – for example sustainability, health and wellness, and design and social media are all likely to be areas where work will be created over the next decade. Also remember that jobs that involve working closely with people (chef, hairdresser, coach, physiotherapist) are unlikely to move to another country.
4. Become a Master. Separate yourself from the crowd by really learning to master a skill or talent that you can develop with real depth. Being a ‘jack of all trades’ will mean you are competing with millions of others around the world who are similar.
5. Be prepared to strike out on your own. There will always be work with big companies – but increasingly the real fun will come from setting up your own company. We are entering the age of the ‘micro-entrepreneur’ when ever decreasing costs of technology will significantly reduce the barriers to getting off the ground, and when talented people across the world will be connected and keen to work with each other.
6. Find your posse. To create valuable skills and knowledge you will need to quickly reach out to others who can help and advise you. This small ‘posse’ of like-minded and skilled people will be central to you really building speed and agility in your career.
7. Build the Big Ideas Crowd. The future is about innovation, and sometime your best, most innovative ideas will come as you talk and work with people who are completely different from you. Make sure that you don’t limit yourself to working only with those who are just like you.
8. Create support network. Your career success will depend in part on your emotional well being and resilience. In a world of ever shifting relationships, it’s important that you invest in developing relationships with a couple of people – this is your ‘regenerative community’ and they are crucial to your well being and happiness.
9. Have the courage to make the hard choices. Your working life will be shaped by the shifting patterns of longevity (you are likely to live considerably longer than your parents) and demography (in many regions there will be a much higher proportion of people over 50). So you need a strategy for the long term. You have three hard choices: 1. Build a career that enables you to work longer (at least into your late 60’s or early 70’s), 2. Be prepared (like the Chinese who save around 40% of their income) to save a significant proportion of your income throughout your working life, 3. Consider ways to reduce your consumption and live more simply. It does not matter which hard choice you make – but you are going to have to make at least one of them.
10. Become a producer rather than a simple consumer. ‘I work, to earn money, to buy stuff, that makes me happy’ is rapidly becoming obsolete. Engaging in meaningful work where you can rapidly learn will become a priority (although fair pay will always be important).