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What is future proofing and how can it shape professional growth?

Posted by Jenna Baskin on 11/09/2023
Jenna Baskin
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Consider the working landscape of today.

You'll find a few similarities to years gone by, but also many stark differences in the way people find employment and build their careers.

Gone are the days of sticking with one employer all the way through to retirement. These days, we can't really predict which future events are coming and how they will impact us. Economic upheavals, pandemics, political situations, digital transformation - they can all impact the job market and compel businesses to downsize at a moments notice.

That's why future proofing is so important. But what is future proofing? And how can you make sure you're prepared for the unexpected?

What is future proofing?

At its core, future proofing means anticipating what's coming and preparing for it. It’s like checking the weather forecast before heading out – only instead of an umbrella, you’re equipping yourself with in-demand skills.

Remember typists? Or the telephone operator who'd connect your calls? These jobs were once in high demand, but advances in tech and shifts in consumer behaviours sent them into the annals of history.

No one could've predicted the exact pace of these changes, but what’s clear is that those who adapted and reskilled found new avenues, while others were left reminiscing about the good ol' days.

And whether you're a doctor or an entrepreneur or a teacher, your field is bound to advance and change in the way it functions. There is no constant - and the only way to make sure you can adapt is to future-proof your skills.

How to future-proof your career

1. Adapt to change

Change is inevitable. In the whirlwind world of professional growth, the only constant is change. Whether it's new technologies, emerging methodologies, or shifts in market trends, adapting and building resilience is crucial.

But it's not just about acknowledging these changes; it's about embracing them. By keeping an adaptable mindset, you position yourself as a forward-thinker, someone who doesn't just react to change but thrives amidst it.

This doesn't mean jumping onto every trend, but discerning which changes are essential and harnessing them for personal and professional growth.

2. Stay tech-savvy

In the digital age, technological fluency isn't a luxury; it's a necessity.

Whether you're in marketing, engineering, or finance, there's a tech aspect to virtually every profession now. So, even if you're not in a tech-centric role, understanding the latest digital tools and platforms can set you apart.

Dedicate time to explore new software, attend tech workshops, or even just read up on emerging technologies. Not only does it boost your efficiency, but it showcases you as someone committed to continuous improvement.

3. Create a professional network

You've probably heard the saying, "It's not just what you know, but who you know." Building a robust professional network can be your lifeline in an ever-evolving career landscape.

Regular interactions with peers, attending industry seminars, or even just maintaining a strong LinkedIn profile can open doors to opportunities you didn't even know existed. It also gives you insights into market trends and shifts, allowing you to anticipate and adapt more effectively.

If you're not too familiar with networking, LinkedIn is a good platform, to begin with. It's a great way to find and get in contact with old colleagues, learn about the latest training sessions in your niche, find webinars to attend, and become a part of groups and communities.

It might also be a good idea to join your local professional associations and participate in industry activities and events.

4. Develop long-lasting skills

While staying updated with current trends is essential, honing the right timeless skills is equally vital.

Soft skills like critical thinking, effective communication, and problem-solving will always be in demand, regardless of industry shifts.

These are the bedrock skills upon which you can layer more specific, industry-relevant expertise - continuous learning in these areas are essential.

Develop these existing or new skills by:

  1. Creating career development goals and sticking with them
  2. Come up with a personal learning plan with a specific period to get relevant knowledge
  3. Pick two or three skills or competencies that you want to learn, such as coding and stress management, and learn and develop them over a year. Remember to monitor and measure your progress
  4. Learn cross-functional skills. Specialisation helps in uncertain situations and at specific points in your career. But your knowledge and skills can quickly become outdated if you don't keep up with the latest trends and update them

5. Stay flexible

A rigid approach in today's dynamic professional environment can be a hindrance.

Flexibility isn't about being wishy-washy; it's about being open to new ideas, methodologies, and even potential career shifts.

This could mean being open to relocating for a dream job, learning a skill not directly related to your current role, or even pivoting into a new career direction. A flexible mindset is often a precursor to innovation and growth.

A job title or description won't define the work you do in the future, neither will it confine it. Instead, your ability to apply your unique skills, talents, and knowledge to how you work will determine your job and role.

6. Keep an eye on your industry

Keep your finger on your industry's pulse, or even the pulse of multiple industries. Examples of this can be to subscribe to journals, be active in professional groups, and regularly converse with peers and mentors. Make sure you're finding the right resources to keep you in the loop.

By staying informed, you're better positioned to anticipate industry shifts and pivot your skillset accordingly. Plus, it helps you identify gaps and opportunities that others might miss, giving you a competitive edge and making a significant impact in your ability to adapt.

Prioritise working in industries with long-term sustainability and an optimistic outlook, and welcome any role-change or transition to another industry if need be.

Ready to future-proof your career?

In a world where change is the only constant, future proofing isn't just about safeguarding your career; it's about thriving in it.

Want to learn more about future-proofing and how you can implement it into your career or business? At MCI Institute, we're in the business of future-proofing. With our range of online certificate courses and online diploma courses, you'll be well-equipped to tackle the changing landscape of work.

Check out our courses and enrol today!

Book your free consult now

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By Jenna Baskin

Jenna Baskin is the CEO of MCI and has over 11 years’ experience in the training and education space. She was responsible for the creation of the MCI's online consumer division, the MCI Institute, and the transition of the organisation into the digital learning landscape. This includes platform partnerships across North America, unique content development, and the introduction of virtual reality learning methodologies.