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How to plan a career in changing job market

Posted by | October 26, 2017 | Career, Career Planning Process

Via Economic Times : How to plan a career in changing job market

Remember the good old days? The streets were safe. Goods were cheap. Jobs were aplenty. You got promoted every few years. You had an income for life. But the world has changed. Neither your city nor your job is safe anymore. Hiring intentions are at a 12-year low in India as per a Manpower Group report.

Businesses are evolving or collapsing rapidly thanks to changes in multiple technologies and massive Internet penetration. Whatever job you do now will transform in three years or your employer will get it done cheaper and faster either through technology or by a younger replacement. Here’s how you can plan a career in a job market that will change more in the next five years than in the previous 50!


Sticking to your current skill set is a sure shot way to becoming redundant. Are you an accountant who knows how to keep books? This single skill earlier could get you a job and keep you there for a lifetime. Just a few years back, this skill became useless if you could not use an accounting software.

Similarly, a single change called GST meant that your contribution to your employer dropped dramatically unless you were willing to learn new skills. Book-keepers now get paid much lower wages than a mere five years ago.

The knowledge that you hold today and spent years in acquiring and polishing is worth far lesser if you take even a single year sabbatical from continuous learning. With Internet penetration, knowledge is incredibly cheap and even the youngest patient and legal client questions and double checks the service he is getting versus the price he is paying.

Similarly, companies are learning that it is foolhardy and uncompetitive to pay senior professionals more for their knowledge alone. A youngster with less than half the experience can acquire that knowledge at a substantially lower salary.

Work hard and you will succeed is terrible standalone advice in the current job market. Merely trading in more hours of your labour will not work anymore. For every job that requires human hours, someone somewhere is working on technology to reduce time required to do a task to make you either more productive or redundant.

Companies are investing in bots to speak with online customers. IBM Watson scans all medical knowledge and a patient’s computerised history to accurately diagnose and prescribe thus reducing your role as a healthcare professional. From manufacturing to services to knowledge work, your labour hours are being replaced by technology solutions that help your company reduce costs and increase productivity.

If you are a technology-dependent professional, you know this better than anyone else. Massive changes in the technology that you used 2-3 years back forced you to head back to the classroom to upgrade or become irrelevant. Relying on your comfort with current technology in your job is the fastest route to losing your job to the next savvy professional who comes along.

Artificial intelligence in language/data, robotics/3D printing, Internet of Things in goods/manufacturing/labour and Internet/computing in knowledge/education are rapidly evolving technology spaces where your comfort levels in using them needs to keep pace to stay professionally relevant.


Yuval Noah Harari in his book Sapiens ascribes evolutionary success to the ability of getting large numbers of people to work together. The primary difference between being merely skilled and being successful lies in how you work with others.

To achieve this, you require the ability to communicate and sell your ideas to others. As each person is different, you can relate to and deliver real value only when you figure out what individually matters to them. Work on your negotiation skills to master the art of reaching agreement on common goals and process.

Stay curious and stay hungry. If your current skills and knowledge are redundant, the only thing that you will ever require is the ability to learn. This is an acquired skill. The first step is to be intensely curious. Observe children who have the steepest learning curves simply because they are constantly curious about the world around them.

Let the work and success of others fascinate you enough to ask questions and read up on how they do what they do. Automate your learning process by constantly signing up for training available with your employer or online. No learning will ever go waste and no employer will ever let go of someone who can connect the dots across business and solve problems.

You will do well to set aside at least two hours every weekend to just pause and think. Ask yourself what happened in the previous week or month, what new knowledge you acquired and how can you improve your plan for the future.

As you invest in thinking, you will find yourself creating solutions for small problems at first and increasingly larger ones as you go along. Congratulations. Your creativity means future income for you!


Be paranoid
What could go wrong in your job? How will you find your next source of income? 28-year-old IITian Prabhkiran Singh—Cofounder at Bewakoof. com—believes constantly questioning what is working well helped his team build a Rs 60 crore profitable e-commerce startup without VC backing.

Double up
Get a second career, work a second shift, sell to a second client or acquire a second skill. Mayur Taday—Dy COO of a Rs 1,300 crore HR firm—believes constantly reinventing his career from sales to operations to product to startup helped him grow into a CXO role.

Stay fit
Investing in achieving high fitness levels increases ability and time required for learning and growth. Abhijit Yadav, an ex-Navy officer believes five hours a week in squash and golf gave him the energy, positivity and drive to rise to a Director from scratch in five years.

Stay sharp
To stay alive and kicking in your career, keep your mind ticking by constantly challenging and feeding it. Rustom Batlivala, a successful finance and investment professional, with careers in consulting, advertising and PE stays sharp by reading, learning music and meeting experts every week.

Grow people
The way to attract and lead people is to teach them, help them solve problems and unlock their potential. Shishir Gorle, CEO of Innovource, a staffing company, rose to the top by leveraging his armed forces experience to invest in people and helping them surpass their goals.

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