16 ways to ‘future-proof’ your career

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Change is constant, especially when it comes to technological advances. Many businesses are quick to embrace and adapt to include these technological advances, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, in their daily operations. Indeed, the increasing use of AI and ML has many people nervous about being pushed out of their jobs.

Members of the Business Journals Leadership Trust understand these professionals’ concerns and have shared some recommendations for “future-proofing” yourself for the working world. Try these strategies to prepare yourself for the increased role of technology in the workplace.

Forbes Agency Council

1. Take inventory of your skills.
Inventory your skills and know what value you bring to an organization so that you can adapt and grow based on your success, not what’s hot in the market. For example, a skilled writer will always be a skilled writer, regardless of whether that is within a creative shop or a highly technical environment. Some raw, innate skills will always be in demand. Focus on those and the rest will follow. – Paul Weber, EAG Advertising & Marketing

2. Learn about and leverage your technological ‘competition.’
Learn about your AI/ML competition. Find out what makes them great and what their pitfalls are. You can strategize ways to work with and use AI/ML to enhance your human level of service instead of fighting against it. – Christen McCamie, Nesta Real Estate Consultants

3. Do the things AI and ML can’t.
Do the things that AI and ML can’t do or don’t do well. These are mostly related to human interaction. The human mind is far more complex than any computer can understand (at least right now). Furthermore, we are each so different that a computer could never keep track of those differences. Lastly, emotional intelligence is still a (rare) human talent. – Brian Walters, Walters Gilbreath, PLLC

4. Reframe your value based on operational and cultural knowledge.
Employees should first reframe their value based on their operational knowledge and their ability to navigate company culture, including the unique elements they contribute — things the machine cannot use in decision-making. They also have a chance to take advantage of the current situation to learn new skill sets, earn relevant industry certification and position themselves to add value to the bottom line. – Daniel Villao, Intelligent Partnerships, Inc.

5. Hone in on your creativity.
Humans’ unique differential will remain regardless of automation. We are creative beings, and as long as we approach problem-solving and pain points with creativity, our jobs are “future-proofed.” Embracing AI and ML to enhance efficiency and competency is a good thing! The door is open for more human invention and innovation. – Rachel Namoff, Arapaho Asset Management

6. Never stop learning.
Learn a new skill, language or even a new code. Make sure your employer knows you are hungry to learn and conquer new opportunities. Never stop learning and developing new skills. – Andrew Duffell, Research Park at FAU

7. Be able to recognize and adapt to business changes.
Being able to adapt and recognize modern changes in the way business is done is very important to any professional, no matter the industry. While it’s impossible to be an expert on everything, professionals should stay relevant by continuing to learn and embrace the modern new technologies that are entering our daily lives. – Tom Rourick, RSM US LLP

8. Remember there’s no substitute for human empathy.
In our business, human interaction and involvement each step of the way are what sets us apart. Even if we get to the point where there’s more automation, there is no substitution for empathy and feeling heard. As more industries utilize AI, the human touch will continue to differentiate us. It’s important to create an environment that celebrates the unique experiences our team brings to the table. – Jake Gilbreath, Walters Gilbreath, PLLC

9. Develop a growth mindset.
Every professional should develop a growth mindset where they focus on learning and make conquering new challenges a part of their routine. This will allow them to grow as businesses evolve. If professionals have a fixed mindset where they give up or avoid challenges, it will inevitably lead to failure to adapt to changes in the environment. – Vincent Phamvan, Vyten Career Coaching

10. Look for opportunities to streamline mundane tasks.
AI and ML are growing, but instead of being nervous about job security, people can see it as an opportunity for the more mundane tasks to be taken care of with technology. Then the human aspect can blossom, with professionals being more creative in their work, planning and strategy. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

11. Get ahead of the curve.
We must all continually update our skills! The technologies are coming, and we can either be displaced by them or be the innovator who solves problems through these new tools. Staying current and getting ahead of the curve is critical to remaining relevant in the new workplace. – Kathleen Schofield, Northeast Florida Regional STEM2 Hub

12. Prioritize your critical thinking skills.
This is an age-old question. People worried about the calculator, then the computer, now AI and ML. The one professional asset that is constant is critical thinking. Train your brain to look at problems from a macro/micro, conceptual/analytic and social/strategic viewpoint. Critical thinkers will be the next generation’s leaders — they will be the conductors rather than the musicians. – Lane Conner, Fuzse

13. Demonstrate your resilience.
While no one really knows which employment opportunities will be available in the future, you can still learn to future proof your career so employers see you as the best candidate. People who are adaptable and resilient will be the ones who will have longevity. A “change is inevitable” mindset must be adopted by professionals. Have an open mind about what change brings and take it head-on. – Katie Wahlquist, Star Bank

14. Challenge yourself to think creatively about your job and business.
Allow yourself — better yet, challenge yourself — to try creative thinking sessions (all pencils down and phones off) at least once a month about your job/business. AI and ML can do a lot at an impressive speed but are nonetheless tethered to data and processes that have occurred in the past. To date, only the human mind can envision something that has not been done or existed before. – Michael Sluka, B2B CFO Partners

15. Find ways to make tech work for you.
In today’s era of distributed workforces, cross-functional collaboration is digitally driven. All professionals must keep up with emerging technologies and upgrade their tools regularly. If you’ve used the same old tool for years, you may not even know what you are missing! My recommendation is to make tech work for you, not be scared of it. – Mark Zinman, Zinman & Company

16. Think like an entrepreneur.
There is no such thing as future-proofing. It is important to understand the market value of what you have to offer. You should always think like an entrepreneur. What can I offer that others need? What is the hiring manager looking for? When the skill you are currently known for is plentiful, build your other skills or acquire a new skill that is less available — then promote it. – Samir Mokashi, Code Unlimited LLC

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