Just a quick reflection on how we used to choose our careers – At least I can talk about how it used to happen (still happening in the same way for most parts) in India. In one line – 80% of the determining factor was money. We used to select the careers where there is more money irrespective of whether you have natural talent for the chosen career or not. And almost all the time parents used to decide kids careers .Of course, relatives, parents, friends and even some times neighbors used to play significant role in your career decision !!. I wouldn’t simply say it was all rubbish,just to give some respect for all our hard working parents for the love of their kids. For the kind of economic conditions we were in it was OK to go after money based careers. Enough of past.
Now lets come to the current and future situation. As the economy is growing and the pace at which the technology is disrupting every industry, next generation careers are going to hugely change in a way you may not be able to visualize them right now. I can see in my mind that most of the current jobs would not exist in 10-15 years from now. And I believe there wont be many permanent & full time jobs. At lower end we would be start competing with Robots. This is already happening in a way but it may not very visible now.
So, if this is the way future is going to be then how should you choose your career? This is not only for the college kids but also for the people who still have to work for another 10-20 years.
Here are my thoughts on 5 critical factors to consider in your career decision/changes:
- Know your ‘real’ talents: We were mostly managing our careers based on skills and not necessarily from core talents. But going forward there will be very less room for building careers based on skills alone. Talents should be on primary focus. How will you know your talents? Most of the time people get confuse to identify their talents with skills. Spend some time on understanding the difference. There are many scientific methods available to know your talents. Choose a career/roles that fits into your core talents.One of my favorite tool is Gallup’s StrengthFinder. MBTI is another useful assessment tool to know your core personality.
- Test your Passion assumptions/hypothesis: Most often we say we are passionate about some careers based on some illusions ( fame, money, etc). General trend of our role models are Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerburg, Bill Gates, etc . And some times we think we are very passionate about some career etc. Before you jump the gun, test all your assumptions. Pilot and test your passion. You will come to know whether you are truly passionate and cut for it. Make sure you are not trying to run away from the current pressures and challenges and living in the dreams of dream career.
- Future is for Innovators: I believe 80% of what we do currently will be eliminated in next 20 years time. That means that the clock starts from now and you will start noticing that slowly automation and robotics will take a significant role in eliminating majority of the tasks that currently we do. So what will we be left with?. Currently innovation is kind of extra and cool thing. But in the future innovation would become commodity. Meaning that innovation would become a basic necessary for any career and at any level. You can not (very difficult) innovate outside of you core talent areas. So it becomes very imperative that you know your real talents and then bring your innovation around your talents. There will be less need for just doers and more need to creators.
- Deep Expertise : Even right now any work that is commodity and generic in nature does not have much value. In future, only deep expertise will have value. All generic stuff will go away. Thanks to the automation. Pick your talent area -> Innovate -> build deep expertise and compete in parallel with humans and robots !!
- Nature’s Laws for success are not going away: Just because future is going to all innovation and high tech does not mean you can bypass basic ingredients for success. No way!!. It just that you would need to add for every old ingredient a prefix called “Smart” but rest remains same. For e.g from ‘Hard’ working to Smart ‘working’. So continue to build strength on all the key build blocks for success.
You might be either thinking all these automation etc will take time, or if only “smart”people have better prospects then what will happen to the rest ??. I am sure some new industries will evolve. May be we don’t need that much money for basic living. With the kind of innovation that is taking place cost of living should come down. May be not every one need to work ;).
But if you want to lead the pack then you have to be extra careful and “smart” in your career selection.