Why are people so interested in future proofing their careers?

What happened?

I recently posted an article on LinkedIn called  “How to future proof your career” that clearly hit a nerve with many people around the world. My focus was on the threat posed by technology impacting a range of careers and how to use a 5 step pivot process to respond to it.

Why did it happen?

I’ve been thinking about why this article was so popular. It received 100 times the amount of views, likes and shares of any other article I've ever written. You could put it down to the right heading or a few key people hitting like and share to give it momentum.  I don’t think they’re the only reasons it had this overwhelming response.

I think it’s because deep down many people are unhappy with their current career and see threats like this as their opportunity to do something about it.

It’s like they’re looking for a reason to justify making a change. I have some data to back up this hypothesis. My Career Wake Up Call Quiz asks people to rate their career using some simple questions. Even with a small sample so far I’m seeing some clear trends:

  • Only 15% of people don’t daydream about doing something different meaning the rest do some or all of the time
  • 12% feel happy or fulfilled in their career
  • 15% are on track for their career goals
  • 20% feel happy doing this sort of work for the rest of their career

You could argue that the responses are skewed because people who are happy with their career don’t do quizzes like this. In my experience they often do to make themselves feel good, confirm they’re on the right track and because they're smart enough to know they might learn something.

I wonder what the numbers would be in your organisation? I'd recommend getting some people to take the quiz and find out.

What does this mean?

I believe people want better careers but they fear leaving behind the security of what they have now even if it makes them miserable. Once that security is threatened by an external force it becomes easier to take the risk and so they go looking for advice on how to.

The message for HR

I believe HR professionals need to work with their employees to help them future proof their careers. That's the best way to retain and engage their people. Here are some questions for you to consider:

  • Do you pay enough attention to helping employees with career planning? 
  • Have you analysed what roles you will and won't need in 2, 5 or 10 years from now?
  • Do you have coaching or mentoring tailored to the needs of high potentials, emerging leaders, middle managers and senior leaders?
  • Is your system proactive or reactive when it comes to future proofing?

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