In years gone by, I haven’t had a great deal of struggle finding employment. Or… I have. It certainly takes focused, concerted effort. But I have, in the end, not found work as such but had work find me. This past year has been different. The search has been harder, and the fruits of that search far more sparse.
Why was it easier for me years ago than it is today? And what can I do today to make it easier, to make it more like years gone by? I expect the answer to those questions is similar. It isn’t the search, as much, that matters. Yes, in the end, it is still who you know and that does mean seeking out leads and communicating. But more and more, it matters what you’re communicating. It matters what you have to show.
I tend now to be of the opinion that to get ahead and stay ahead, or even just to remain in the game, you must be self-reliant and multi-disciplinary. The feeling I get is that the jobs market is thinning with increasing automation. Fewer people are able to do the same work, and to demand higher pay for it. What remains is decreased pay and decreased opportunity for the rest of us.
The Guardian puts it somewhat more dramatically: Robots will not lead to fewer jobs - but the hollowing out of the middle class.
Sounds about right to me.
In order then not to be left behind, not to be merely a labourer of the growing working class, but to remain in what we’ve always called skilled work and to be paid appropriately for it, I believe we must start to think differently. It isn’t actually work that any of us are after, it’s relevancy and agency. We sought education and we trained ourselves because we don’t want an occupation, we want a profession. And it is professions, not occupations, that will truly suffer most due to automation.
So how does one combat this? How does a person be more self-reliant and multi-disciplinary in order to remain relevant?
Let’s call it a revolution.
Put in maybe the most dramatic terms possible, that’s what we need to do: we must revolt!
Now, that does not mean that we should leave our jobs, refuse future employment and protest the inevitably changing world. Though there are certainly things that can and should be done to ease the transition into a more automated future, there is almost certainly no stopping it.
What we must do is work smarter, maybe harder, and show off a bit.
The professional sector will erode away. And now appears to be the time to respond by boasting a greater range of skills and independence.
Say, like me, you’re a software developer… I don’t think that that is going to remain enough. You need to be a software developer with open source contributions, or a software developer with books published in the field. You need to not only be a software developer, but an author of software development literature too.
My friend, a life coach, is already doing so much more than pursuing that one discipline. In fact, he already is published. But were he not, he might be advised to write a book or take up public speaking. Another life coach I know differentiates himself by pursuing the attractive status of influencer on social media and online video.
And when I asked recently on Facebook what people thought the most important Search Engine Optimisation tasks were, the first two people to answer (and answer damn well at that) were a photographer and a musician. One of the two even goes the extra mile by offering web services to his clients.
It has always been the case that entrepreneurs, particularly in starting up, have had to wear many hats. I believe that the amount of hats required by early businesses is increasing, and that professionals seeking traditional employment also need to start thinking like entrepreneurs too.
Be self-reliant, multi-disciplinary; wear many hats; contribute as much as possible into the public sphere and make sure people know about it.
To survive in professions of the future, I think you’re gonna need to be a rockstar.