How To Remain Marketable In The Ever-Changing World Of Work?


A career is a journey. And with every journey comes brief detours, pit stops, side excursions, wrong ways, and long stretches on cruise control. There are times when we lose our way and times when recalibration is necessary. But the fact remains: Those who set off on their journey with a map in hand are much more likely to reach their destination.

The modern-day truth, however, is that it’s no longer a single-career journey. People don’t want to work at one organization for their whole life — or even perform the same type of job until retirement. Forever jobs are no more.
The Evolution of “The Career”
People are staying in the workforce longer these days, with 1 in 4 adults 65 and over still holding down a job. Many factors contribute to this phenomenon. Some are continuing to work because they enjoy it. Some continue because they are not financially able to get by otherwise. They simply don’t have enough saved for a comfortable retirement. But staying in the workforce does not necessarily mean they are staying in the same jobs.

These days, only about half of the workforce believes their employer is loyal to them (according to this article from Career Builder), which certainly decreases the loyalty that people feel back towards the organization. Less loyalty from all sides means less reason to stick together through thick and thin. Millennials (the largest demographic in the workforce) don’t equate a career with a single employer at all, embracing “job-hopping” as a way to build their experience and advance their personal careers (according to the 2019 Millennial Manager Workplace Survey). Additionally, more people are switching from one job to the next, seeing that as the only option to receive a significant pay increase more than the average three percent.

It’s hard to say how many times people change careers throughout their lifetime (according to this fact sheet from the Bureau of Labor Statistics) because it’s hard to say what qualifies as a career change. But an August 2019 news release from BLS stated that Boomers held an average of 12 jobs throughout their lives. With the Millennials’ fondness for job-hopping, that number is sure to increase by the time this group is retiring.

But it will be increasingly harder to make those quick pivots in career as time goes on. Because the one thing we do know is that the workforce landscape is changing at an unprecedented pace. The digital age has forced organizations to adapt or die, and it’s getting harder to keep up.
The Growing Difficulty of Changing Careers
According to this 2018 report from Burning Glass Technologies, there is a “lack of alignment between the skills employers need and the available talent in the workforce,” known as the skills gap. Due to the rapidly changing landscape, a greater level of mastery is required for current and future jobs. Employers either don’t have the proper training systems, or there are not enough potential workers with the skills they actually need. This means it’s becoming more difficult to make those quick changes in career, especially for those people who want to make lateral moves.

Organizations also seem unsure of how to deal with this dramatically changing landscape. Some are choosing to fire workers who don’t have these new skills that are needed, even when it would be less costly to train from within. They just don’t have the know-how or the proper systems in place for training and development. This means people are having to think more strategically than ever about their own careers.

Lastly, there is a “steady erosion of the skills base that is undermining America’s competitiveness” (says this report from Burning Glass & Harvard Business School). Middle skills jobs are going away, and these are the jobs that have been the foundation of the middle class. The popular societal message that tells young people the only way is with a degree from a four-year college is a dangerous one. It has left our workforce with a lack of those with middle skills, and it has given us an excess of workers qualified for jobs in industries where there is no demand for them.
What Can Workers Do to Remain Marketable in This Ever-changing World of Work?
If this information all sounds daunting to you, or if you feel a sense of insecurity about your career, there are a few things you can do to prepare yourself for the future of business and create a thoughtful “map” for your career journey.

Pay attention to what’s going on in the world. Read the news. Stay current with business headlines and industry reports. Know what products and services are popular and why. Keep up to date with the ever-changing technology world and what’s happening with digital trends. This will give you insight on what’s happening in the workplace landscape and, more importantly, what people and organizations are finding valuable.
Be curious. Adopt a learning mindset. Embrace a variety of different experiences, even if they don’t seem relevant in the moment. Explore your interests. They will often lead to new personal discoveries that you hadn’t considered before. The workplace of the future requires people to think creatively, connecting ideas beyond boundaries. A growth mindset will prepare you for all kinds of potential changes and shifts.
Know yourself. Understand your strengths and weaknesses. Identify what your unique value is and how you serve others. Build confidence around your distinct characteristics, and learn to communicate them with clarity.
Connect with the right people. Network and surround yourself with people who are also interested in learning and growth. Find those who will support you in your self development journey. Finding a tribe of passionate people who inspire you to be better and expose you to different ways of thinking will help you expand and improve.
Start now. And keep growing. Start small and build these new habits over time.There’s never a better time than the present. Read an article, take an online or local continuing education course, join a meetup, or volunteer.
The Bottom Line
The way people are thinking about their careers continues to change. And the needs of organizations are quickly evolving as well. Let’s hope we find alignment between the needs of the workers and the work itself. Assertively taking steps to remain in demand in this wildly disruptive environment will no doubt be the key to an individual’s success. The career journey is no longer a passive ride that we can quietly enjoy from the backseat. We must grab the wheel and take an active role in our working future.

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