Careers 1: Deal with the certainties first, uncertainties later

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There is a lot of discussion about what is changing in the world and how much and how quickly. How as professionals we must all adapt or perish. How we must rush and scramble to build new skills and be on a treadmill of learning new things if we need to build a successful and sustainable career.

This is partially true. Being too worried about future uncertainties is useful to build some new muscles, hone old ones and shape perspective. It also adds to many more questions than clear answers. Good for philosophers but not always for taking action in one’s career.

It is also true that most things take time to change, so there is enough time to adapt if we are clear on what to change in ourselves and what capabilities to build. And we will still catch the trend and benefit from any changes around us.

We do not need to worry about what is coming next. It is not in our control. And as humans we have the capability to adapt quickly when needed.

Many professionals spend lots of energy, time and money on trying to deal with ‘anything may happen — and so I should be prepared’.

In the ocean of uncertainties however, there are five certainties worth appreciating and dealing with first.

There will be more competition for the same roles or jobs each of us are vying for next year. More qualified and hungrier professionals will join the workforce, at a cheaper cost, perhaps less experienced but also with skills not too far away from us.

The key Question: Am I really good at something and getting better at it to stay ahead of the competition? Tip: Just focus on improving oneself continuously, building specific capabilities.

Many new courses to build skills will be marketed as the next big thing, and more important, as if that one thing will make us, or break us if do not engage with it. In reality, a very small %age of these will perhaps really matter.

The key Question: Which one thing do I really want to learn or build using my time, resources and energy? Tip: It’s not about learning something new being marketed, it may well be just learning an old skill really well — something that never goes out of fashion.

The larger economic phenomenon will decide the labour market, and there will be ups and downs from time to time. Some skills will be more in demand at a given point of time than others.

The key Question: While I keep an eye out for macro changes, do I really need to get too worried about these? Tip: there will always be jobs and roles for the top 30–40%, maybe even 60% of talent, even in a really bad downturn.

Mobility of talent across sectors, geographies and skills will accelerate. Skills will be sourced from around the world for many jobs, especially remote and hybrid ones.

The key Questions: Am I working on increasing my job and employment universe? Or am I too stuck with industry, titles, geographies etc? Tip: Examine what assumptions are made by you when looking for the next role — are these putting limitations on your opportunities?

Tools and technology will make things easier in many ways if we know how to use them. They will also make things difficult at some level. Many roles, or parts of roles, will become redundant.

The key Question: Which one or two tools/ technologies/ methodologies am I really a master at? Tip: we know many tools superficially but are really not a master, we use very few features in most tools and technologies available to us.

One can take the perspective of looking at these as uncertainties. My encouragement is to treat these as certainties and just focus on concrete action in each of these stated areas.

Concrete action helps in converting many uncertainties to certainties.

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Bimal Rath. A loving heart is the truest Wisdom.

Executive Coach. Student of Leadership in all walks of life. Loves uncovering potential in people. A helper.