Advances in technology and the "digital workplace" impact everything about the way we work and how to go about planning our career. It doesn't matter if we are just starting out or are a seasoned professional, technology is changing things...and fast!
Take a moment to think about how much the career landscape has evolved even from just 10 years ago. Besides just making me feel really old, technology is fundamentally changing the nature of many jobs...been to a Walmart checkout lately? It's making some jobs obsolete or nearly so but also creating some new and interesting fields that are slowly emerging as highly coveted, lucrative career goldmines.
Some trends that are getting me really excited continue to be on the rise, including a focus on STEM and big data, careers that focus on sustainability, and remote work. Unless you are one of the lucky few with a gorgeous corner office, who wouldn't rather work from home or a sunny patio on some days? Here are 5 truths about the modern career path and how it's evolved over the course of the past decade.
1. Flexible/remote work is on the rise — but it's not completely commonplace yet.
Most often clients tell me that part of what they crave in their work is flexibility. The option of (at least occasionally) being able to work remotely and have a bit of control over the structure of their day.
This type of work environment is a possibility for many careers today, even within traditional, surprising industries such as law and even medicine. However, the trend hasn't fully taken flight quite yet. Even though many working folks would be willing to take a slight pay cut to make this a reality, rush hour traffic isn't likely to be disappearing completely. If this is something you prioritize for your work, sometimes all you have to do is ask. Figure out how you could make this work and be prepared to prove that it can.
2. Tech-focused jobs can turn an industry that used to be seen as dull into something cutting-edge.
Ten years ago, the idea of a career in "data migration analysis" wouldn't have sounded very interesting to anyone but a very small, technology-forward few. Today, things have changed and everything is about data. Marketing, computer science, medicine, finance--it's the name of the game. Of course, sustainability is critically important to every industry, meaning things continue to look up for professionals drawn to all things environment-related. Companies ranging from large corporations to small businesses — in essentially every industry imaginable — are seeking to reap the rewards of minimizing their footprint to become more socially and financially responsible.
3. Less emphasis on bums in seats and more on productivity.
More and more, today's workplaces are FINALLY emphasizing the quality of work produced, rather than just the number of hours of face-time an employee put in. This makes my heart sing as I'm a big believer that life is too short to be a clock-watcher. There are a few good studies that support the fact that people who are judged on the quality of work they produce, as opposed to just the number of hours they clock tend to be much more productive anyhow. This fits in with the trend of more flexible work options. Okay, also this: open floor plans and co-working places. As an introvert who values quiet time to think, reflect, and work, I'm not a fan of open floor plan offices. From what I understand, many of these updates to the traditional workplace are directed toward millennial employees, who tend to favor collaborative work environments and cite personal learning and development as the number one priority when selecting a career. That being said, I think there are many millennials who think open floor workspaces are the pits and probably many non-millennials who like them, but I digress.
4. Advanced education is being completing overhauled.
Yes, so the availability of high quality online learning and resources are fundamentally changing advanced education. The way we learn is virtually unrecognizable from when I was in university (ahem...has it really been over 20 years!?) Of course, the trend of being a life long learner is increasingly common in today's digitally driven society. While heading back to school to get an advanced degree after the age of 40 used to mean becoming a bit of a social misfit in a traditional university atmosphere, today's online resources have made that mindset a thing of the past. Many online programs stem from extremely reputable universities and organizations and can provide as quality an education as one obtained in a classroom.
Whether you're seeking a mid-life pivot, hoping to pick up a new skill in order to advance to the next pay grade or making a complete about-face in your career, looking into online courses and programs — even free ones can pay off in spades.
If you're looking for a place to begin, shoot me an email, I've got a ton of resources related to free or low cost training, in addition to paid options.
5. STEM and data-driven jobs are still hot and can offer highly lucrative career paths.
Tech and big data have become a part of job descriptions from entry-level all the way to senior management in most industries you can name, so it's no secret that having technical skills in programming, data analysis, dev and design, engineering, etc. can pave the way for the career of your dreams — perhaps even that coveted job that you can perform from the comfort of your bed. Virtually every industry willing to innovate and adapt will be touched (or punched in the face, if they’re slow to respond) by change and growth across all STEM fields.
If you're a Baby Boomer, or a Gen Xer (like me), don't let all of this news freak you out. Even if you think you aren't the most tech-savvy, there is still a place for you in our rapidly evolving economy and career landscape. The opportunities are endless and even a lot of fun! I talk more about this in my article 3 Small Steps to Take When You're Over 50 and Need to Change Careers.
We know change is the only constant and I'm here to help you get better at it!
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