by Asad Husain, author of “Careers Unleashed“
If you desire any degree of success in your career, you must demonstrate your relevance to the most significant business problems of today and tomorrow. Your education, knowledge, skills, mindset and experience must help you solve problems that businesses have today and tomorrow. No matter what path you choose for your career, if you are not relevant to the world of work today and where it will head, you will not thrive, or even survive, in your career.
What causes career irrelevance? The most significant cause is when the speed of change around you at work or in your profession is faster than the speed of change within yourself. We are experiencing a world of work where change is continuous, and the pace of change is faster than ever before, moving us faster towards irrelevance.
To counter this, you need to continuously unlearn and relearn by taking multiple dips into acquiring new education, knowledge, skills and experiences to tackle the business problems of today and tomorrow. The more pertinent these are, the higher the probability that you will significantly impact the business. The more significant your impact, the higher your chances of having an extraordinary career. Does this resonate with you?
The changing career landscape
Over the last three years, almost everything we know about careers changed as we saw significant global disruptions at work, bringing the future forward at an accelerated pace. What we thought would require years to implement and was cost-prohibitive started happening almost overnight. The nature of the Covid-19 pandemic did not cause these accelerated global shifts. These trends existed before 2020, but the pandemic escalated and magnified them.
Similarly, almost everything we know about careers has changed during this time, but the trends were also there before. The pandemic intensified them, and the unimaginable and tragic loss of lives across the globe made us pause and reset what is important to us in life and where we are spending our time. The result is that how we got to where we are in our careers, whether by design, accident or happenstance, will not help us much in getting where we want to go, or maybe even survive, any longer. New wirings are now in place. Regeneration has taken place.
There are six key career trends that need to be understood before anyone puts together a career game plan. Without understanding these trends, you will find it challenging to remain relevant and struggle to take charge of your career.
Career Trend #1: Embracing longer careers.
Assuming you start working at the age of twenty-two and retire at sixty-five, a typical career span would result in you working a total of approximately 75,551 hours over the course of your career. This already seems like a long time.
Now consider two other factors. First, the average life expectancy has been increasing globally over the past few decades, second, people are generally not saving more to account for a possible longer retirement. How long will your career be, and how will you stay relevant in a continuously changing world?
Career Trend #2: Mastering strategic choices for happiness at work.
Gallup’s ‘State of the Global Workplace 2022’ report on worldwide engagement states that only 21% of employees are engaged. More worrisome is that 19% are, in fact, unhappy. So, 79% of the workforce is either disengaged or unhappy at work. Wow!
You must make strategic and thoughtful career decisions to avoid long periods of disengagement and unhappiness, not meeting your career expectations and possibly adversely impacting your health, wellbeing and relationships.
Career Trend #3: Aligning work values for success and fulfillment.
Work values are priorities, beliefs, ethics and morals that drive our motivation and behavior at work. Work-life balance is not enough anymore. As employees are also looking for flexibility regarding where and when to work. The pandemic blew away the myths that remote work is not possible at a large scale, will take a long time to implement, and will not be productive.
For the employee, understanding one’s career aspirations and the work values accompanying it is critical to enable a better and happier life. Do you have your work values figured out?
Career Trend #4: Navigating the ‘jungle gym’ of careers.
Planning a career has always been important, but never more than now, and preparing for it in today’s new world of work requires new thinking. In designing a successful and fulfilling career, we can no longer consider following the traditional linear career path or ladder.
People are continually moving, changing jobs every three years on average, and working for twelve-plus companies in their careers. Additionally, the Covid-19 ‘rethink and reset’ has led to many people pivoting to something completely different and new in their careers, but something they enjoy doing. Others have side hustles while working day jobs, adventuring into the creator economy. Given the above dynamics of the turbulent workplace and how employees see their careers, if the linear ladder is outdated, how should you think about career progression?
Career Trend #5: The expanding career horizon.
Another significant trend impacting the world of work and careers is the number and diversity of career options available. You must reimagine all your career options and be ready to reinvent yourself to pursue some of them.
Open your mind to having a career in multiple disciplines, functions, and capacities (for example, employee, owner, creator, advisor), interjected with several stints in learning.
Career Trend #6: Skills as the currency of success.
The world of work has changed and continues to do so at warp speed. Early in the pandemic, it was mostly about business continuity and survival, but now organisations are focused on thriving in this ever-changing environment.
Whereas jobs used to be central to organisational design, the focus is now on upskilling and reskilling the workforce. To succeed, organisations are becoming much more fluid and adapting with speed to a continually changing landscape. The implication for careers is that you will need to grow, evolve and reinvent yourself continuously in terms of skills.
Being in charge of your career means you are proactive, aware of trends, and adapt as you go along. Sleepwalking for long periods in jobs is not going to be possible. You must make a mental shift towards a continuous reinvention of yourself to remain relevant and, therefore, employable. It is critical to have clarity in order to construct an extraordinary career that leads you to success and fulfillment, so take time to reflect and think about what you really want from your career in the future.
*this is an adapted book extract from “Careers Unleashed” by Asad Husain
Author of “Careers Unleashed“, Asad Husain is a future-focused HR leader who is passionate about inspiring and influencing people worldwide to achieve their career aspirations. Holding over thirty-one years of experience contributing to organisational growth and individual success in companies like Gillette Company, Asad is keen to share his global learnings to inspire success.