The wave of technology that is changing and eliminating jobs has been discussed since as early as 1930. In that year, the famous economist John Maynard Keynes wrote an essay entitled, "Economic possibilities for our grandchildren" in which he predicted robots would create "technological unemployment" that would lead to job scarcity. Robots have since evolved from curious oddities from the world of science fiction to drivers of artificial intelligence and resulting cost savings, often to the detriment of workers whose traditional jobs are rapidly being replaced.
Economists agree that throughout history, jobs are made obsolete through technological and economic advancements. However, history tells us these jobs will be replaced by new jobs as the economy shifts and needs change. For example, blacksmiths were rendered obsolete when automobile manufacturing began, but new jobs in car manufacturing and highway construction were created. History confirms that displaced workers always find other jobs and the effects of the growing digital economy won't change this trend.
Nevertheless, you can't count on moving easily from job to job in the face of increasing mergers and acquisitions that can change the working environment quickly and unexpectedly.
Here are five tips to help prepare you for huge changes in the workplace and protect you and your career now and in the not-so-distant future.
Research your industry and learn all you can about how technology is going to change the way you or your company must operate to stay competitive and profitable. Keep a close eye on, and get a grounding in, broader themes such as artificial intelligence and big data. Your research can involve reading or viewing online commentaries from credible sources, and talking to those who are knowledgeable in your industry. Your manager or clients may offer personal insights to give you a broad perspective.
Define your career goals
Get clear on your career goals, why you do what you do, and the changing skillsets required to achieve those goals. Develop specific skills you need to make yourself invaluable to your company and don't always rely on your manager or human resources person to guide you. Ongoing, self-learning is critical to self-determination when it comes to proactively building versus just protecting your career and staving what may be inevitable.
Demonstrate your professionalism daily to your managers, and your clients and customers. In addition to being a consistently productive team member, become an idea generator and thought leader to make you even more relevant to your company for years to come. For example, if you are in the financial services industry, understand the implications of technology on your clients and company's profitability. According to Ric Edelman, founder of Edelman Financial Services, "Advisors have to become technologically proficient. Consumers are demanding technological solutions; for example, being able to talk with your client by video chat, or being able to aggregate your accounts."
Embrace technological change
Face and embrace the realities of technological change. For example, consider the rise of robo-advisors. Financial services have historically been a face-to-face industry, but clients are consistently turning to technology and the ease it brings to manage their wealth. With 52 online advice firms to choose from in 2017, up from just two in 2000, advisors have their work cut out for them to remain relevant.
It is estimated that by 2020, robo-advisors will manage $8.1 trillion in global assets. With the ease of financial management through technology, financial advisors will have to find other ways of creating value for clients, such as financial education, family wealth counselling and estate planning that go beyond many financial advisors' portfolio management role.
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Carefully prepare for performance reviews, whether they are 180-degree based, and focus solely on your performance, or are 360-degree based, and focus on both your and your manager's job performance.
Rather than be content with a good review, and perhaps a raise go beyond the status quo and position yourself as a partner in your company's success by offering ideas that reflect future trends, not just your day-to-day job description. Consider talking about expanding your job description to show your leadership skills. After all, the future belongs to leaders and the knowledge you gain in pursuit of your leadership will help you to continue to grow.
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