How to futureproof your career (and why it’s so important)

Make sure you’re ready for whatever lies ahead with this expert advice about futureproofing your career.

When you think about the future of your career, what do you imagine? For some, it’ll be a promotion or pay rise, while for others it’ll be a new job – perhaps even in a different industry. But while thinking about your immediate next steps is sure to prove valuable, very few of us take the time to think about what our careers might look like in 15, 20 or even 30 years’ time.

That may not seem like a big deal, but at a time when the skills required to secure a good job are constantly evolving thanks to innovations in technology, putting in the work to prepare yourself for the future can be incredibly worthwhile – especially with the retirement age set to increase. But what’s the best way to go about ‘futureproofing’ your career? And how can you make sure you have the skills necessary to achieve your goals?

What does futureproofing your career mean?

Futureproofing your career is all about preparing for what lies ahead.

Futureproofing is all about making sure you’re ready for what your career journey has in store – whether physical, mental or emotional. Upskilling of course plays a big role in this (we’ll get onto that later), but it’s not all about learning new skills or developing intellectually.

Eleanor Tweddell is the founder of the career coaching platform Another Door and author of Why Losing Your Job Could Be The Best Thing That Ever Happened To You. She believes futureproofing your career simply means working on your ability to learn and adapt.

“None of us know what is around the corner, whether it’s job loss, a pandemic or our current skills being done by robots,” she says. “However, I’ve realised that if I work on my resilience and make space for finding solutions to problems then work will always be available.” 

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In this way, Tweddell explains, futureproofing can take a number of forms – including reconsidering the way you think and behave. “Keeping an open mind to what you believe you can do and daring to give things a try is important,” she says. “I’ve learned to drop the ‘I can’t do that’ thinking. I now ask, ‘What if I could learn.’

“Getting to know yourself is also a useful learning experience. I thought it was a ridiculous concept at first, but I soon realised I didn’t spend enough time thinking about my goals, values and strengths and tuning into that voice in my head that often gets in the way and holds me back. Learning new skills comes easier when you know yourself better.” 

How does upskilling relate to futureproofing?

Upskilling is an important part of futureproofing your career.

As previously explained, upskilling is one (significant) piece of the futureproofing puzzle. By staying on top of your skills list, practising those which you haven’t used in a while and learning new ones, you’ll be in a better position to take any changes to the working world in your stride.

“Training and upskilling are essential to boosting career prospects, by building on the skills you already have to meet the demands of employers, and the wider economy, today,” explains Steve Warnham, senior researcher at Totaljobs.

“The workforce continues to change at a rapid pace; the pandemic accelerated many of these changes, and the introduction of new technology will continue to do so. Taking steps to futureproof your career now means you can get yourself on the front-foot for these changes, rather than having to react quickly.” 

How to futureproof your career

Seeking out additional training is a great way to start futureproofing your career.

You know all about the benefits of futureproofing and what it involves – but how can you actually put that information into action? We asked the experts to share some top tips.

Identify any limiting beliefs

The last thing you want when you’re thinking about a career move is your own mind standing in your way, so taking time to identify any core beliefs that are holding you back is a good place to start.

“Be mindful of what you are telling yourself about what you can or cannot do,” Tweddell recommends. “Ask yourself what if you tried? What if you gave it a go? What is there to lose?”

Seek out training opportunities

Not all upskilling has to be done under the supervision of a manager or as part of an office-based course – in fact, there are loads of ways to learn new skills that’ll help you progress in your career. 

“As well as undertaking employer-led training, there’s a variety of free and accessible courses out there that you can take to enhance your CV,” Warnham explains. “For example, Google runs a range of free training courses that you can sign up to – from digital marketing and the basics of coding to effective communication.”

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Play around with your current skills

Just because new skills are being brought into the workplace, it doesn’t mean your current skills will be made redundant – in fact, they could end up becoming the thing that sets you apart. You just need to know how to use this to your advantage, Tweddell says.

“Know that the things you find easy might be the very thing that you could help someone else with in the future,” she says. “You could twist how you deliver your skills and become the teacher, trainer or coach. Don’t be afraid to play with ideas about what you can do with your current skills.”

Highlight your transferrable skills

In a similar vein to the above, making your transferrable skills clear in any job application will help you put your best foot forward if you decide to move industries or specialities.

“Transferable skills can be role-related, technical or general skills that can be put to use in a variety of jobs across a number of industries,” Warnham says.

“Many employers look at more than just job titles, preferring to concentrate on a candidate’s relevant skills and experience. Examples of transferrable skills include IT, communication, research and planning, interaction and liaison skills, organisation, management and leadership.” 

Images: Getty

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