Kieron O’Connor: Future-Proof Yourself as Career Paths Evolve

It used to be that career paths used to be linear, in that one would work one’s way up a corporate ladder to get to the level of responsibility and authority with which one was comfortable; most of the time this would see a member of staff remain at the one company or organisation throughout their career, with sometimes a move to another company the solution for high-achievers. But not any more.

Nowadays, not only are employees reviewing their personal situation every few years – some more regularly and some less often – but they are also changing what they do. Going back 20-30 years, graduates would stay in accounting, finance, insurance, computers, etc., and hone these skills by updating their skills-set with evening courses or training sponsored by one’s company. Nowadays, for many people, this is changing as the career landscape has shifted significantly. It is now highly likely that for many of us our career will evolve considerably during one’s working lifetime.

Roles and skills required by companies are continually changing in today’s corporate world, with the rate of change only increasing as we go forward.

Our jobs are evolving rapidly, both in what we do and how we do them; also, employers are becoming more demanding of staff – quite often the reasons behind these are technological advances. A few years ago Blackberries were invented and allowed people to access their email while out of the office; the Internet boom happened and social media – in particular, LinkedIn, in this instance – allows much more contact, communication and research, and much faster than before. Legislation is changing rapidly, e.g. compliance requirements after the global economy crashed in 2008-09

Employers also want staff who have a broad range of skills so they can multi-task across a more complex business model, offering more than in a linear model supporting demarcation. Employers are looking for people who can achieve more, and this requires a broader skill-set to enable a higher workload – including technical, technology and linguistic areas.

We all need to be open to learning, change and new projects so that we can evolve and stay ahead of the competition.

So, how does this affect you? My advice is to “future proof” yourself – take time to learn new skills and use them, whether in doing voluntary work, giving back to the community or in teaching. Learn a new language – Luxembourg’s the perfect place for this. Learn a new skill, get up-to-date training on new technology, legislation, regulations, etc. Achieve new formal qualifications – your currently qualification is unlikely to last your entire career. Take up a new hobby, or mentor someone starting a new business. Put yourself forward for projects that will take you out of your comfort zone and let you develop new skills.

Keeping on learning will differentiate you from the competition, in both good times and bad.