Perspectives A Sensei is a Wise and Thoughtful Teacher

Career Transition in a Rapidly Transforming World11th July 2017

Thousands of bumblebees are tagged with RFID chips to study migration patterns and hive collapse rates.  Google’s self-driving cars ‘learn’ from their mistakes.  Amazon is working on an anticipatory shipping project that would send you items before you know that you need them.

Some may think that US companies are already deep into the digital revolution but rapid advancements in artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing, robotics, big data, and advanced analytics place us squarely on the cusp of a massive surge of integrating technology into every aspect of our personal and business lives.  This dance, where technology augments human capabilities, already influences the job market.  As the tempo increases, job seekers will need to remain ever evolving and nimble.

So how will this technical coup d’état impact job search for both workers and companies?   It exacerbates the current demand for trained and skilled workers.  Bullhorn, a renowned provider of recruiting software, identified that nearly 1 in 4 respondents have indicated a current skills shortage in the industries for which they recruit and that they anticipate this gap to expand in the future.

With low unemployment rates, Monster reports that traditional industries struggling to meet top talent goals are hospitality, manufacturing, healthcare, and technology.  A lead accounting firm acknowledged that the robust emerging companies market is generating demand for accounting and tax professionals with strong consulting skills.  Baby Boomer retirements will create opportunities for those with managerial skills.

Employers will compete for top talent or pay the price for empty seats.  Companies are responding to this war for skilled workers in a variety of ways.  Some, like Virgin Media, are reinventing their employment processes.  Richard Branson identified a loss of both the most talented candidates and a $6M downside from a job application process that was so miserable that job candidates canceled their contracts after the disappointing experience and then signed up with competitors.  His team is now challenged to ‘Make Virgin Media famous for the candidate hiring experience.’

In addition to an enhanced hiring experience, leading firms are modifying culture and practices to woo both younger generations of workers with different values and more senior ones who no longer require a 9-5 job.  Work environments are becoming more casual, embracing work flexibility, workplace wellness, and creative reward structures.  Offices are replaced with telecommuting.  Career ladders are replaced by challenging projects.  Continuous training will be critical as technology consistently modifies the work environment.  Employees raised on interactive video games will expect that companies make learning and working a pleasure.  Technological advances will enable this.  Leading companies are already investigating conducting training using virtual reality and gaming applications.

The employment market will become more fluid.  Contract, part-time, and gig employees will supplement a core workforce enabling an influx of specific talent for key projects and opportunities.  The President of SHRM, Henry Jackson, noted in 2016 that the ‘rise of freelance’ workers was a top employment trend with many studies predicting that 40% of the workforce may be freelancers in the next few years.

The composition change of the workforce will cause its own set of demands.  Both full time and temporary workers will need team skills and the flexibility to come together as a team, produce results, and move to new opportunities with high change resilience and a short learning curve.  Managers will need to possess the skills to lead these short-term teams, who may likely be working remotely from far flung locations. Human Resources will need to implement hiring strategies and benefits opportunities to attract the best and the brightest of these new workers.

Whether thrilled or terrified by this rapidly morphing work environment, job seekers will be challenged in many ways that they have not previously encountered. How can they prepare?

Develop ‘Top Talent’ Skills:

Candidates with the strongest skills set will prevail. All workers need to develop a picture of their industry’s future.  As an example, PWC notes that as technology handles more of the routine aspects of an audit; business acumen, critical thinking, and understanding market trends will become key to even junior auditors.  With understanding and vision in mind, individuals then need to build the requisite skills to prepare for the future with formal education, industry meetings, journals, stretch projects, and more.

Align Expectations with Current Realities:

By researching current employment trends and doing a little self-reflection those considering or in transition can expand their opportunity horizon.  What would it take to open a consulting business and work on a contract basis?  Would telecommuting open additional opportunities on a national or even an international basis?

Continue to Build Technology Skills:

It’s an odd juxtaposition that as technology becomes more integrated into our lives and easier to use, humans are required to continue to develop new and different technical skills. Ask anyone with an Amazon Alexa personal assistant and they’ll tell you that it takes ‘her’ awhile to train the humans in the house how to productively interact with ‘her’.  Staying current in general technology trends will build the skills needed to interact with the smart machines in our business lives.

Take Advantage of Professional Assistance Offered:

For those who find themselves in career transition, take advantage of any professional services that are offered. A trained career coach can assist you in presenting your skills, knowledge and abilities in a way that highlights your match to current industry standards and requirements.  CCI clients find jobs 3X faster on average than the national norm.

This is an exhilarating time to be in the workforce.  Get ready.  This is going to be a wild ride.


Sharon Imperiale

Over 20 years as an operations and human resource executive in the finanical service and insurance industry. For the past 14 years as owner and President of Career Concepts, she's built the leadership development, human resource consulting and executive coaching practices as well as lead the career transition and outplacement practice and held board position for Career Partners International since 2009. After which she assumed Chairperson role for Career Partners International in 2014, responsible for providing strategic leadership to the Board of Directors and Career Partners International's 240 global offices.


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