By Marie Zimenoff
Career Thought Leaders & Resume Writing Academy
Reading the headlines about automation might be causing you to worry about the future of your job. It is important to look forward and consider how technology will impact our work. Automation is going to impact the way we work, but often the headlines are deceptive.
Data from 2015 shows that 47% of current jobs in the United States were susceptible to computerization. Many other headlines share similar scary numbers. However, a closer look at this data reveals that while the headlines tout large numbers of jobs lost, the body of the article offers more hope.
Job automation realities
One estimate is that 3.5 million jobs will be lost to automation. This sounds like a lot but let us put that into perspective.
US Workforce data numbers show that there are almost half that many layoffs, or 1.5+ million people, laid off every two months in the country. The same statistics also show that 6 million or so people voluntarily leave their jobs in a similar period.
People are constantly moving around and there are large numbers of jobs lost all the time and even more created. That is hard for us to keep in mind because the numbers just seem so staggering. It is hard to even imagine what 1.5 million jobs looks like, but when we compare the data, it helps give us some perspective.
For instance, there are 600,000 open jobs right now, so there are a lot of jobs lost, created, and moving all the time.
What you can do to remain automation-proof
Automation is becoming more commonplace and there is a chance that it may take your job, so what can we do with this information?
First, be aware of what is coming up. It is important to watch the marketplace and understand what is going on in your industry and your target industries.
- What skills do you have that people might need in the future?
- What are going to be the gaps?
- What are going to be the pain points?
- What are the drives that you need to pay attention to so that you have the next skill set in need in your industry?
Talk through these answers with a personal branding strategist or a colleague to really delve into where the industry is doing and create a plan.
Understanding what you can do to make technology add more value is going to help you keep your job. Instead of resisting technology or being afraid of it, be that person who dives in and learns it thoroughly so that you are irreplaceable. Augment your knowledge and expertise with the technology that is available.
How to pave your own path
Instead of thinking about how you can compete with colleagues for a promotion, think about how you can open a different area and create something new with your own unique background and experience.
This seems like a far-out concept because we are so used to thinking about what we have that everyone else has, or we are trying to fit into the box outlined in a job description. Looking at that job description really helps put us in a box.
Our ability to get out of that box and break out of the competitive structure can help us create demand for what we do in a different way. We can often avoid falling into some of these traps by looking at market demand and what is currently out there while asking, how do I meet that demand?
Employees do not think about it that way very often. We think about our skills and what we have to offer. We do not think about: What are the needs? What are the gaps? How could we fill those?
However, thinking that way will help us get out of that world where we are fighting against a hundred other applicants. We can create new demand and talk to employers in a completely different way than we are used to.
There are many strategies for differentiating our brand from others. One of them is reversal, being the opposite of what people expect. In your work, is it possible to be the reverse of what people expect in a positive way?
Employers may have specific skillsets and qualifications they are looking for and you want to show you have those. But in what way could you also bring something novel? For instance, a lot of companies like to hire people from other industries because it brings in a totally fresh perspective.
Another strategy is hostility, which some job seekers can use effectively. This is the confidence to know you are unique and flaunt it without making any excuses or apologies. This is an area where you do not want to be aggressive. However, if you have something you cannot change about yourself, turn it to your advantage.
When we think about personal branding, it is really about how we add unique value. Instead of comparing ourselves to the competition, we might also look at what the needs are in the market and figure out how our differences, unique experiences, and strengths add value.
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