Preparing for What’s Next When You Don’t Know What’s Next

If you read much about Workforce 2020, you won’t be surprised by the statistic that about 65% of the jobs to be filled in the next five to ten years don’t even exist today.

If we don’t know what the jobs are, how can we possibly know how to educate and train people to fill those roles?

Good question!

While I don’t have concrete answers, I do have some ideas about how to prepare so that you are well positioned to take on these mystery jobs.

The trend is clearly revealing that automation and digitization, (i.e. the conversion of text, pictures, or sound into a digital form that can be processed by a computer), is the key driver in how jobs are changing. Therefore, technical and computing skills will be in high demand.

However, we cannot underestimate the value of human connection. If fact, I think it becomes even more critical! There is a need for strong emotional intelligence or interpersonal skills to augment robots and provide the human touch and interface.

What I get excited about is that technology will replace both cognitive and routine tasks so workers can take on non-routine activities and more fulfilling roles. What may be intimidating for some is the realization that job scope and responsibilities will be changing.

So how to best prepare?

Embracing a growth mindset. Mindsets are the underlying beliefs people have about learning and intelligence. Read more about why mindsets matter.

If you believe you can learn new things, you also recognize that it will take some effort. It reminds me of what I was told as a child, “Anything worthwhile takes hard work!”

The hard work pays off  – the effort taken leads to achieving something important.

I’ve written about the benefits of life-long learning in a previous blog. I’m a firm believer in getting out of your comfort zone and tackling something new. To me, it’s the best way to prepare for the unknown.

If this is not resonating with you, consider these ideas for shifting into a growth mindset:

  • Take on a new hobby – Do the research to understand how to excel; buy the right equipment, tools, and resources to set you up for success. For example, if you want to start gardening, research how to best prepare the space. Get the right tools, seeds, and fertilizers and understand what will grow best for your climate zone. Then dig in and experiment. Learn from your experience and begin to apply it as you grow your garden.
  • Volunteer for a task force – This will expose you to new people coming from different perspectives. You can learn about their unique concerns and be exposed to other functional areas without having to change jobs.
  • Teach a course or workshop – The topic will be in an area of your expertise, however, it offers an opportunity to explore techniques for teaching others and developing ways to make the content come to life and be applicable to them.
  • Travel to a new country – Ideally, one where they speak a different language. Again, you are in a new environment, your sense of awareness is heightened, and you can experience something new with fresh eyes. You also have the chance to learn about a new culture and traditions. That learning can be applied back at work in dealing with people from diverse backgrounds and ways of thinking.

It is an exciting time ahead! Be ready to excel in this new world of working!

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”  ~ Charles Darwin

Martha Duesterhoft is a Partner with PeopleResults. Follow her on Twitter @mduesterhoft or connect via email at