6 Steps to Future-Proof Your Career

The workforce you entered when you accepted your first job probably looks a bit different than what you’re experiencing today. Even if your work history spans just the last few years, the environment on this side of the pandemic looks different than it did in 2020. This evolution of work isn’t new. Innovation is a constant. In a world that’s always changing, creating a skill set that’s future-ready is a necessity. 

No Crystal Ball Needed

Video conferencing was a good business tool in the pre-2019 era. From dedicated conference rooms with large screens and cameras to apps on your desktop or phone, video calling was a fairly common tool that we used at least some of the time. No one would have predicted, however, how absolutely vital this technology would become for businesses, schools, and everything in between the following year. 

Maybe these tools are no longer quite as ubiquitous for everyone today as they had been during COVID, but that’s not really the point of this example. The point is this: you don’t need to accurately guess or predict what trends are going to take over business in the coming years and then devote your time to developing those specific skills. Developing a future-ready skill set is more about a willingness to learn and adapt than it is any one specific focus.

Always Be Learning

Take classes. Read books and articles. Attend seminars and conferences. Keep hearing about the development of AI-based tools? Dig deeper. Go ahead and play around with ChatGPT. After you ask it for ideas on what to make for dinner or how to assess ROI of your business’s TikTok account, turn to your favorite publications and other resources to read what industry pros have to say about the application of AI in business. 

In other words, in a world that’s always changing, you never know everything you need to know, so keep experimenting and studying. 

Be Adaptable

“We’ve always done it this way,” is a red flag. Yes, there is value in consistency. There is value in experience. There is value in routine and rhythm. However, there is also value in being adaptable. 

This isn’t about changing for the sake of change. This is about asking “why do we do things the way we do them? Is this still working? Is there a better, more efficient, more effective way to do this? Do we need to make a change? Do I need to make a change?” 

Regardless of how you answer those questions, you need to be asking them and you need to be willing to make changes where appropriate based on those answers. 

Build Your Network

We are in this together. We can learn from one another. We encourage one another. We can help each other make connections to other industry pros who can shed light on new trends or open doors to new opportunities. 

Sure, the way we network has changed over the years, but the value of establishing a group of peers and mentors for yourself has not. Whether you connect online or in-person, whether your group is a formal industry association or just a group of peers you meet up for coffee a few times a year, build your network.

Embrace the Entrepreneurial Mindset

Whether or not you’re ready to step out and cultivate your own business, developing and cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset is part of creating a future-ready skill set. Being an entrepreneur, after all, involves creativity, innovation, and a willingness to take calculated risks. These are all valuable skills for anyone in business. 

Entrepreneurs look at the changing landscape of business (and life!) not as a challenge to struggle through but as an opportunity ripe with potential. Can you think of a better way to navigate the ever changing landscape of business and technology? 

Move Out of Your Box

Entrepreneurs also learn the language of business that moves beyond their core skill set. That’s not to say you need to become an expert in accounting overnight or be the new marketing guru for your company. (And honestly, a smart entrepreneur learns how to outsource and delegate the things outside their wheelhouse, too!) You should, however, learn enough to hold a conversation with those who do have mastery of those skills. As you continue to learn and adapt, don’t be afraid to explore topics outside your specific area of focus.