I think that my 12 year old niece knows more about computer coding than I do. Isn’t that crazy? One of the biggest causes of anxiety of many people in the modern workforce is that they will become irrelevant before the end of their careers, and be unable to retire. These fears of being left behind are strengthened by the fact that we live and work in an age where groundbreaking changes that affect the marketplace seem to occur every single year.
This highly competitive landscape makes it easy to focus on the wrong set of skills, when those talents may be worthless in only a few years times. However, one shouldn’t necessarily get anxious about this situation. Today is also a time of endless possibilities. The key is to not feel like you are a cog in whatever industry you work in, but are a living and changing part of the shifting workforce. Here are some tips on keeping yourself relevant in the modern workplace…
Make your skills work in a digital world
The material world was so the 1980’s. The first thing that everybody needs to know is that we are are living in a digital world, today. Because of this, the first step of everyone in the modern workforce should be to consider if their skillset fits in with the digital landscape. If your income is decidedly determined on factors outside of the digital world, then you should find ways that your experience can transfer to a business that is more dependent on the online market.
Indeed, companies that are failing to digitize are already feeling the consequences. The truth of the matter is that many strong industries of the past, such as manufacturing, are never going to come back in full force. The future is digital. Grab on now or you may risk irrelevance.
Diversify your talents
One of the most important rules that investors learn, early in the game, is that you have to diversify your portfolio. You don’t want to invest too heavily into one industry, because if that ever collapses, then you are SOL. Well, professionals should imagine their skillset like a portfolio. If the talents that are crucial to your career are dependent on one particular industry, then you are always going to be at the mercy of ebbs and flows of that industry’s success. Instead of being a pawn in this game, diversify what you are good at, so that you can adapt to the shifting marketplace. Diversification opens up future opportunities, and mitigates future risks, as well.
Keep up your education
Simply working and being apart of the marketplace is a great way to gain new knowledge, each and every day. However, there is something decidedly different between what you learn at a job, where what you are learning may or may not be applicable to the world beyond that job, and what you learn when you are simply learning information outside of work. For this reason, it’s important to develop the mindset that you are never too old to stop getting educated.
This doesn’t mean going back to school and signing up for classes (although it can mean that, if you want it to), but it does mean seeking out opportunities to learn more about new topics. Indeed, with tools like Khan Academy, there is no excuse not to learn more. Also, try to get educated about a wide variety of topics, not just what you want to focus on in your career. This will make you a more well-rounded person, and can make it easier to learn things that you may have been uncomfortable learning before.
Be aware of changes in the marketplace
As we said before, the marketplace is constantly changing and shifting. With these changes come new demands from the workforce. For this reason, it is important to always have one ear to the ground. Be aware of what is going on in the world around you, and try to get an idea of how the winds are shifting before tangible changes can affect your career. This doesn’t mean being paranoid and overreacting to every change in your industry, but it can help give you an understanding of what to focus on, if you hope to remain relevant.