This article is not a list of jobs that will be in high demand in the future. We have already dedicated a whole other post to that. What we mean to do here is help you understand what aspects to take into consideration when choosing a future-proof career for yourself.
The landscape of today’s job market changes drastically these days. New positions are constantly born, but at the same time, others fade away. The key to staying afloat is keeping up with the flow and being aware of the trends running the business world.
Ignorance is bliss, but when it’s the success of our professional life on the line, I think we can all agree that it’s better to stay informed. When choosing a career that won’t leave us hanging in just a few year’s time, there are several factors to keep in mind:
While it is true that the majority of all the aspects of our life is now dominated by technology, the vision of the world run entirely by robots still seems far-fetched. There are certain tasks that cannot - and will not, at least not very soon - be performed without any involvement of a human.
An example of a domain that has come to heavily rely on technological advancement is medicine. It is one of the areas where innovation plays an important role but while crucial, it is certainly not the only factor behind its success.
Imagine an operation being carried out. There are special tools, cameras, monitors, and dozens of other solutions meant to make the doctor’s job easier and, most importantly, more effective. But despite it all, it is still the surgeon’s hands that carry out the most important task of all. And even if, in a couple of years, it will be a robot holding the scalpel instead, there will certainly be a living, breathing human with a soul overseeing the process and making all the important decisions.
Of course, this logic does not only apply to medicine. It was merely to illustrate our point, but when you think about it, there are many areas that continue to require direct human supervision, despite the high involvement of technology.
It also applies to situations where people’s life isn’t at stake - tasks as simple as writing. Whether it’s a blog post, or an article in a newspaper, or a book, in an ideal scenario, it will need to gain an editor’s approval before it can get published. And despite the existence of multiple tools such as Hemingway, Grammarly, and a million others, none of them is able to provide the same quality of edition as an actual person would. And chances are, that won’t change for many years to come.
We often hear about certain jobs being dead. But the truth is, many of them aren’t completely gone - they have simply changed.
Let’s look at working as a translator, for example. It is a common opinion now that it is a career that is not worth pursuing because, with the expansion of special translation programmes and software, human translators will become disposable.
That, my friends, is not true.
The job of a translator is not about to die. It is about to develop. Where the typical workday of a translator once upon a time consisted of grabbing a text and translating it into another language line by line, it now bases on the use of translation software. CAT tools are smart enough to offer suggestions, based on the memory bank previously created by the translator. Therefore, translation now is less about the meticulous process of converting meaning word-by-word, and more about editing semi-automated translations in a way that will make them sound natural.
Remember this: you can teach a machine literally everything, except emotions. You can give it all - a memory, a logical mind, a functioning body. But you can’t give it a heart and a soul. It will be a good while before a robot can understand concepts as subtle as irony, humour, allusions, or hidden meanings. It won’t spot - much less be able to effectively explain - cultural references. It won’t read between the lines. It will probably translate an idiom literally, stripping it of all sense in the target language.
Such a translation has no right to exist. It has to be reviewed by an actual person, who will be able to breathe life into it. Any sceptics out there - go on, conduct an experiment.
Step 1: Have a look at the poem The Chaos by Gerald Nost Trenité
Step 2: Copy-paste it into any translation programme you know, choose any target language you wish.
Step 3: Cry at the results.
All right, we do admit that this example is rather extreme. Even the most professional human translator would lose some sleep over this poem. But it just proves our point, doesn’t it? If a trained person cannot possibly tackle this task, then how could a robot? Creativity is yet another trait a machine will never have!
Humans: 1. Robots: 0.
Technology might not be anywhere close to overtaking our lives anytime soon. But there is no denying the fact that it has successfully dominated them.
So while you shouldn’t panic about being replaced by a robot a year from now, you must definitely attempt to stay up-to-date with the latest technological advancements. Stating that “technology doesn’t like me” simply isn’t cutting it anymore. Regardless of your relationship with all types of programmes and gadgets, you need to learn to master them.
Familiarity with the Microsoft Office package isn’t impressive anymore. A recruiter won’t primarily choose a CV that sports this skill - they will discard any that doesn’t. Something that used to be considered an advantage has become a bare necessity.
Of course, that is not to say that everyone is expected to be fluent in coding nowadays. One cannot possibly keep up with all the programmes ever created, even if they limit themselves to their own domain. The message you need to get across to the employer is that you’re not stuck in the previous century. Even if you personally have no experience with the type of software this particular company uses, all they need to know is that you’re trainable.
It takes an hour to train a new employee on the features of the technological solutions they will be interacting with every day. Nobody, however, has the time to invest in explaining the basics o someone with little to no understanding of modern technology.
Of course, the presence of technology is more notable in some professions than in others, so depending on what you do, you need to gauge how strong and extensive your skills must be. The scope of technical knowledge of a social media manager will be much broader than that of a shop assistant at the local grocery store, whose boss requires them to publish one post a day featuring their daily offer.
The general tendency is, however, that the more you know, the more advantage you have. Never pass up an opportunity to learn something new in terms of new technologies, and don’t make them your enemy, as one day they might become your biggest advantage.
In our quest to impress a modern employer, we sometimes tend to focus so much on the job-specific skills that we push the universal ones to the background. It is good to always develop in your profession, but transferable skills are equally important.
Can you say you are goal-oriented? Punctual? Organised? Have good time-management skills? Can prioritise your tasks well? Perform well under pressure? Do you have examples of specific situations when you proved each of those traits in a professional setting?
If the answer to at least one of the questions above is no, then your way to a future-proof job might be in jeopardy. Imagine a situation when the market changes and the job you’re currently performing is no longer in high demand. In order to find employment, you need to adjust your angle a little bit, find a different field to play in.
What will you hold on to in a job interview for a position you don’t have that much experience in? Skills that the employers want and that you have, of course. The default profile of the perfect candidate remains the same across all industries: reliable, dedicated, organised, motivated. We could go on, but we think you get the just by now.
Transferable skills are skills that, if you decided to switch your career path by 180 degrees right now, would still land you a new job. Everyone has to be meticulous, goal-oriented, and with good time management skills - a doctor, a secretary, a pilot, a cleaner.
Once you develop a set of skills every employer wants to see in a potential candidate, you will be immune to any fluctuations on the job market. One thing to remember is though that it’s not enough to say you have those features - you must always be able to demonstrate them with a real-life example and, later on, your performance.
We can never stress this enough - languages were, are, and will continue to be, the key to success. They are often the bargaining card for a higher salary or better benefits in the workplace.
In a situation when you need to look for a new job but are having trouble finding it in your current location, a foreign language is your way out. The more languages you know, the more potential destinations you can look for employment in. Every language is valuable, of course, but to increase your chances, pick one based on your needs.
For example, German speakers are widely sought-after in the business sector, all over the world. Spanish, being the second most-widely spoken European language worldwide, opens up a variety of expat destinations: North and South America, and Europe. The same applies to French, which is the official language in multiple countries, including Canada, Switzerland, Monaco, and many parts of Africa.
The disadvantage of popular languages, however, is that the demand for them is lower. The high number of native speakers leaves the employers being flooded with candidates, rather than candidates with job offers. In translation, for example, the rare languages come with much higher rates - those translating from Navajo will earn much more for their work than those working with Italian.
Regardless of whether you decide it’s more beneficial for you to aim for the current trends or pick a niche, do consider learning an additional language, if you aren’t already. And even if you are - one can never speak too many languages, so what’s one more to add to the collection!
We often hear the statement: “I originally wanted to work as x, but I ended up working in y, because the prospects were better”. It is no doubt important to keep our secure future in mind while choosing a profession and refrain from spontaneously choosing a job that will come with instability and stress. However, in most cases, it’s also unnecessary to jump to extremes.
We all know someone who wanted to be an artist but eventually became a bank clerk. Someone who’s made it through medical or law school not because the domain fascinated them, but because they believed it would lead to a well-paid, future-proof job.
The key is to find the balance. In our search for a safe, stable career, we don’t need to completely forgo our passions. Oftentimes, there is a way to connect the pleasurable with the beneficial. While choosing your career path, write down your goals and interests, and perform thorough research of the market. Take into consideration all the tips discussed in this article, and find the best solution for you.
We can’t tell you what position, in particular, will be tailor-made for you, but we hope nonetheless that our advice has lifted your spirits and that it will eventually help you make the right decision. Best of luck!