Today’s employees should expect to make a career change ten or more times in their lifetime. This trend is only increasing as AI and automation ravage previously stable industries.
A report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states: “Individuals born in the latter years of the baby boom (1957-1964) held an average of 11.9 jobs from age 18 to age 50…”
Many will be shocked by this report. The general storyline today is that employees in “the good old days” worked for one company for twenty years and retired with a generous pension and health benefits.
It sounds like nostalgia may be shading society’s view of yesterday’s job market.
Regardless of the past, the future is more uncertain than ever. It’s never been more important to invest time in learning new skills, breaking into new industries, and securing opportunities that make us competitive for the job market of the future.
1. Interview Practice
Interviewing is a skill. And, just like when you skip a day in the gym, skipping a few years between interviews will hurt your ability to perform well when it counts.
Tips for improving your interview skills:
- Practice researching companies before showing up for your interview. The more you know about the business and the position available, the better you’ll be able to focus your answers on the things that matter to your prospective employer.
- Many interviews (especially initial screenings) are taking place remotely. Record Skype calls to review later. Improvement requires honest analysis of past performance. Remote interviews are a gift for people that want to improve their interview skills. It’s a little more awkward to haul a camera into an in-person interview (not recommended).
- Make a mental inventory of your hobbies and experiences outside of work. You’ll be asked about them. If your answer clearly shows how your personal interests make you a better candidate, you’re going to come out ahead.
2. Dedicate an Hour of Your Day to Learning a New Skill
Google allows employees to spend 20% of their day working on projects they’re passionate about. How are you spending your day?
If you’ve allowed the sun to set without learning something new, you’ve wasted a day – especially in an economy where tangible skills are more important than degrees and pedigree.
Skills important for the workforce of the future:
- Familiarity with Office 365, G-Suite, Windows, Mac OS, Chrome, Google Search and other productivity tools.
- Coding, WebDev and Software Development (Free Courses)
- Comfort with working remotely.
- Written communication skills (Slack, email, etc.).
3. Change Career by Pursuing a Side Hustle/Freelancing
Freelancing can be a great side-hustle. It can also allow you to make a successful career change. But there are many stumbling blocks on the path from office-drone to freelancer.
For example, you’ll need to build a portfolio of work that proves you can deliver. The best answer to: “Do you know how to do XYZ?” is: “Let me show you what I did for ABC. They had [insert problem], so I [insert detailed solution with link to completed work].”
Places where you can quickly start freelancing:
4. What You Know is Important. Who You Know is Even More Important.
Networking is the art of building relationships with people. Sometimes people mistake networking for schmoozing or spamming influential people with sales pitches. This is not networking.
If you want to effectively grow your professional network, you need to find a way to add genuine value to the lives of those around you. Networking requires an investment on your part. You’ll need to spend time with groups and relevant organisations in your community.
The opportunities that networking can create are a happy side-effect of building genuine bonds with others. The groups that you plug into will depend on your professional goals.
Here are some beginner networking opportunities:
- Your local Chamber of Commerce is a meeting place for business owners, entrepreneurs and engaged citizens. I’ve given free, informative presentations to my local Chamber of Commerce on topics related to my profession. This has always resulted in new relationships and future calls when local businesses can benefit from my expertise.
- Religious Organisations: If you share a set of beliefs with other people in your community, joining a faith-based organisation can help you expand your circle of contacts. People prefer to do business with businesses that share their values.
- Community Volunteering: There are hundreds of organisations in your community dedicated to doing good deeds. Donating your time to worthy causes helps you become a good steward of the world around you, and it will give you the opportunity to connect with like-minded citizens.
No matter where life takes you, it’s important to be proactive. Your career switch will hold many exciting opportunities – especially if you’re willing to dedicate yourself to a lifetime of learning and new experiences.