Future proof your career

If the saying ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ applies to you then you either have to change your ways or be prepared to get stuck in the job you currently have. In today’s age, everyone is expected to learn new tricks all the time in an ever-evolving workplace, and not doing so can impact on your career in ways you really don’t want it to.

Here are some thoughts on how to stay on top of all you need to do, know and learn to future proof your career.

Be that person who says yes
Consider saying “yes” at work as a way of upskilling, widening your knowledge and getting paid while you’re doing it. As an added bonus, you might just impress the boss, and others, enough to further yourself in the industry.

What sort of things should you say yes to?
• Joining a new project.
• Taking on extra responsibility, even if it’s temporary.
• Any form of professional development, training or upskilling. The more you learn now, the wider your skillset will be, and the more employable you become.
Be careful though that you don’t burn yourself out, make sure to prioritise your tasks and be honest with yourself, and your boss, if your plate is overloaded.

Don’t be pigeonholed
One of the biggest dangers for those who want to grow in their career is to pigeonhole yourself with skills so specific they become non-transferable or, worse, you simply get left behind. Avoid this by diversifying.

• Be open to learn new skills, particularly when it comes to learning new software and technology, which tends to rapidly change and evolve. Remember, everything is new until you learn it – from there on it’s another tool to add to your arsenal.
• Keep up to date with the latest news and developments in your field, so you know where areas of upskilling or improvements should be in the future.
• Ask for professional development opportunities.
• Use social media and other online tools to hunt for clues about what could be changing in your industry and seek out links to useful resources to change with it.
• Attend conferences, particular those which concentrate on technical developments.

Stay fresh, stay relevant
In a fast-paced, ever changing world, keeping up with the skills you require for the job can be a job in itself. But, in the interest of future-proofing your career, it’s a task you have to consider as an investment.

• Set aside time regularly to assess what new skills are required – or will soon be needed – in your industry. That could mean researching jobs similar to your own, identifying new software and technology developments or even reading job ads to find out what skills are needed in other companies.
• Is there anything you can do at home to upskill to make sure you stay relevant in your industry? Consider online training or other education options.
• Shadow someone in a senior or different position to you to build on your current skills, and make yourself more employable by increasing your knowledge.

When opportunity strikes, be ready
Ensure your CV and professional online profile is relevant, up to date and out there to be seen – after all, you never know who could be looking.

• Seek out connections and maintain them, most will find job opportunities through their network. A personal endorsement, a hint about upcoming opportunities or the latest word on new developments could make all the difference in your future career path.
• Maintain your relationships with recommended recruitment specialists, you really want to be front of mind when they come across opportunities.