Forever Employable


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As more people live longer, healthier lives, the younger generation has to start planning a longer working life as well. Other than that, technological disruption such as ChatGPT or remote work may have an impact on planned career choices. So how should we prepare ourselves for such a career?

The article talks about this in the Harvard Business Review:

It takes constant reinvention to make sure our efforts, career paths, and viability as valuable members of organizations, communities and disciplines continues throughout our career. To better imagine the second half of your career — whether it’s in the job you’re currently doing or something new entirely — you need to engage in the continuous sharing and re-purposing of your experience, passion, and expertise to create a platform of thought leadership around yourself. By becoming a recognized expert in your chosen domain or discipline you can attract new opportunities and career directions. To do this, the author recommends focusing on five core concepts: entrepreneurialism; self-confidence; continuous learning; continuous improvement; and reinvention.

For preparing for remaining employable later in life, Jeff Gothelf, an UX designer who worked for AOL, Braun Consulting, and Webtrends, recommends the following five core concepts:

  • Entrepreneurialism. “This is your life, your business, your employment. You’ve got to think about this challenge like an entrepreneur. Who is my target audience? What problems can I help them solve? What’s the most effective way for me to provide my service to them? These questions start you down the path of building a “startup” centered around yourself.
  • Self-confidence. “Your unique life experiences, diverse paths to your current position and obstacles overcome are the core of your newfound expertise platform. No one else has that. Remember to tap into the deep vein of skills and expertise that is unique to you. When you’re standing at a crossroads in your life, know that you bring something unique to the table — something that no one else has. Embrace it, own it, be it. Your experience has value, your knowledge has value, and you have something valuable to add to the conversation. No one has your story. Be confident in what you know and build on that knowledge as you take on new projects.
  • Continuous learning. “Everything is changing all the time. The only way to keep up — or even better, stay ahead — is to keep learning. You learn continuously by reading blog posts and books, and listening to podcasts and audiobooks, created by people who can help illuminate your path forward. […] Build communities. You do this by constantly experimenting and trying new things. Sometimes your experiments will succeed, and sometimes they won’t. But as long as you learn something from every experiment, you haven’t truly failed. Stay curious. Keep your mind open to the possibilities laid out before you. Experiment constantly, learn from your results, and try again. Like my old ski instructor used to say, “If you’re not falling, you’re not learning.
  • Continuous improvement.“If you’re learning continuously, and you’re applying the outcomes of your experiments to your platform, then you’re always going to improve and get better at whatever it is that you have chosen to do to become forever employable.
  • Reinvention. “Ultimately, becoming forever employable is all about reinventing yourself. […] If you want to stay forever employable, then you’ve got to be ready to reinvent yourself with the times. And that is coming in shorter and shorter cycles.

Jeff concludes: “Re-orgs happen regularly. So do layoffs. Covid-19 has laid waste to entire industries. Technological disruptions automate us out of jobs annually. This doesn’t mean we’re done being useful, successful and viable in the job marketplace. However, being forever employable means you’ve got to be intentional about where you’re going, and you’ve got to be prepared to act — immediately and without hesitation — when the right opportunity presents itself.”