Future-proofing is defined as the process of anticipating the future and minimizing the negative effects while taking advantage of the positive effects of future events. This practice is used by individuals and organizations in a wide range of industries to ensure continued success amid the constant evolution of technology and the fluctuation of societal trends.
Future-proofing in career development involves anticipating the future world of work and developing ways to minimize the impact of unforeseeable events. This requires a combination of reassessing your professional qualifications and studying the latest employment trends. Future-proofing your career can be a variable process, but if done correctly, it can offer several important long-term benefits.
What are the benefits of future-proofing?
Regardless of the industry you’re in, future-proofing can benefit your career by helping you acquire valuable skills, familiarize yourself with new technology and learn about emerging trends in your field. The skills and qualifications you obtain through future-proofing can enhance your professional resume and could open up a wider variety of opportunities.
In the long-term, successful future-proofing can help you stay relevant and provide options for your career path. It can also provide you with career insights that enable better decision-making.
How to help future-proof your career
The specific skills and knowledge you’ll need to future-proof your career can vary significantly depending on your current industry or the industry you wish to work in. However, several general future-proofing practices are applicable across industries. Taking these steps can help you protect your finances and ensure the continued viability of your career.
Target a growing occupation
When it comes time to future-proof, you may find that some careers simply don’t have the same long-term security as others. As technology and other factors continue to fuel the evolution of industries, once important jobs can quickly become obsolete.
For individuals who are just beginning their professional development journey, choosing a growing occupation can help with future job availability and continued demand for their skills. Several notable career fields currently project future growth:
- Computer and information technology occupations
- Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians
- Market research analysts
- Marketing managers
- Training and development specialists
- Sales managers
Choosing one of these growing occupations may provide more opportunities in the job market. However, employment trends can shift frequently, so you should consider researching the latest job growth and availability statistics for your desired career field before you pursue education or employment in that area.
Develop core competencies
While the demand for some skills can fluctuate or disappear, certain professional strengths can retain their value over time and across industries. These are commonly referred to as “core competencies”. These skills can be applied in an extremely wide range of professional settings, and aren’t connected to specific technologies or industry trends, which makes them unlikely to lose relevance. Here are just a couple of core competencies:
- Critical thinking
- Decision making
- Interpersonal skills
There is a range of unavoidable factors that can affect the job market, including economic instability and technological trends. By developing these core competencies, you can help prevent these factors from impacting your ability to find work.
Stay updated with technology
In the digital age, businesses are constantly adopting new technologies, and using existing technology in new ways to enhance communication and streamline their operations. Because of this, many businesses now want candidates who are proficient with the latest technologies being used in their field.
Depending on your desired career path, you may need to familiarize yourself with industry-specific tools, or learn new ways to utilize widespread technologies, such as the latest techniques in social media marketing, for your employer’s benefit. Demonstrating a commitment to learning new technology can help you future-proof your career by highlighting your value to employers.
Build your professional network
Professional networking can help you future-proof your career in a few key ways. By building strong relationships with your coworkers, you can gain a better understanding of the emerging trends in your industry, which can help you determine the most effective way to demonstrate your value to your employer.
Networking can also help you identify new potential job opportunities by giving you the chance to discuss your career ambitions with other professionals in your field. Over time, this regular interaction with your peers can allow you to showcase your interpersonal communication and social media skills, which can help you stand out to prospective employers.
Further your education
Sometimes, future-proofing your career requires additional guidance. If you’re concerned about your long-term job security, but not sure how to address the issue, continuing your education can help you protect your professional future. Pursuing further education from an accredited institution can allow you to learn valuable future-proof skills in a supportive setting.
Education options like graduate programs and professional development courses can help you identify and develop skills relevant to your industry in the future. Completing these programs and adding these qualifications to your resume, can help you stand out to employers.
Track your successes
Just like your educational credentials, your professional history can help determine your value to employers. By keeping track of your past professional successes, such as departments you’ve managed or projects you’ve supervised, you can convey your professional competence to employers. Demonstrating a history of successes can help reassure employers of your value, even as your industry shifts over time.
Study industry trends
The current trends in your industry can often be major indicators of future changes. Studying the emerging trends in your field can help you stay ahead of events that could impact your job security. These trends can include economic shifts, changes in consumer behavior, or the use of new technology in your industry.
By analyzing new trends as they emerge, and carefully considering how they will impact your field, you can identify the steps necessary to effectively future-proof your career.