3 Things Women Can Do To Win The Future Of Work
Rise of the Machines
There is a lot of discussion around the future of work and the impact automation will have on industries, regions, and skill sets. Experts profess that someday soon we will be paid for our creativity, emotional intelligence, and cognitive flexibility. While that inspiring vision may eventually come true, the reality of today is that increases in automation are causing jobs to be eliminated, and that job loss is disproportionately shouldered by women.
The good news is that the outlook doesn’t have to be bleak. There are things you can start doing right now to position yourself for the future of work. Instead of letting the future of work happen to you, start taking action to make it work for you.
1. Allow yourself to envision the opportunities the future of work has the potential to provide
When thinking of the future of work it is really easy to go directly into post-apocalyptic, rise of the machines, all-out-panic mode. Instead, take a moment and consider reframing the challenge before you. Don’t worry how in the world you are going to remain relevant (let alone gainfully employed), consider instead how might you use the changes to create new, otherwise impossible, opportunities for yourself.
Action items: Make a list of possibilities the future of work might hold for you (don’t worry about why or how they might not work out, focus on the possibilities not the problems). Then pick one – maybe the biggest, craziest idea of them all, and blow it out. What actions would you need to start taking to make it happen? Then start doing it. Worst case you are learning while you develop your creative problem solving skills. Best case you are laying the groundwork for your re-imagined, wildly successful future.
2. Continuously upskill and reeducate
Priority number one is to maintain your relevance and qualifications for your current role. While you may not think your role is changing it likely is, perhaps so subtly that you haven’t yet noticed it.
Next, you need to prepare yourself for your next future-of-work-inspired role. We the nature of work is changing, but no one really knows what the future will look like when it’s fully here. That means we are in an extended period of transition, and you are going to have to continually expand your knowledge into new areas. In addition to upgrading your current skill sets, you need to be prepared to learn entirely new ones.
Action items: Attending industry events is a great place to start, because that’s where you’ll start to hear about new ideas before they become trends. Massive open online courses (MOOC’s) are hugely popular, easily accessible learning platforms where you can do anything from take Yale’s most popular class of all time (for free!) to learning more about data, marketing, or even how to code. Check out MOOC.org, Lynda.com, Coursera, General Assembly, or even your own alma mater’s offering.
3. Constantly build your network
Most people think of networking as attending an industry event where you awkwardly hold a sweating plastic cup of cheap wine and try to make small talk with anyone who isn’t intensely staring at their phone. But that isn’t networking, that’s wasting time.
Networking today means laying the path for your next role – either internal or external.It means finding mentors and advocates, identifying where there are potential opportunities for landing or creating a role, and connecting with people who have the influence to help you get where you want to go. It also means doing everything within your power to mentor, advocate, and connect other women along the way.
Most importantly, networking means building credibility around your expertise in an area – creating a brand for yourself. Not a new idea but a tactic that has suddenly gone from being relevant for a small number of high-powered executives to being relevant for everyone. Technology has democratized the ability of anyone to be an expert, which means it is increasingly expected of everyone.
Action items: Get out there and start practicing making connections. If you’re more comfortable interacting socially throw a party and invite some people you don’t – it won’t get any easier than on your home turf. What about the gym, laundromat, or the grocery store? Practice chatting with the people you see around you every day. Try giving them a complement (“I love your sneakers!”) or asking a question (“Do you mind if I ask where you bought your sneakers?”) Go to a meetup on a topic that interests you, where everyone else will share the same interest. When you are ready to take it to the next level consider a professional network where members are all dedicated to supporting each other.
The future of work will bring with it changes that we can only begin to imagine. Change is hard but it’s also an opportunity to do something different, something better. Consider the possibilities of where you’d ultimately like to be, because this might be the opportunity you have been waiting for your entire life.
Katie Fiore is the founder of Future of Women Foundation, an organization dedicated to solving for the future of work for women. She is passionate about creative problem solving and applying design thinking principles for business and social innovation. Follow Katie on LinkedIn or check out her lifestyle blog, Brooklyn to the Catskills.
 Source: Decline In Retail Jobs Felt Entirely by Women, December 18, 2017 Institute for Women’s Policy Research (https://iwpr.org/publications/decline-retail-jobs-...
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You know that feeling of excitement and inspiration you get when you discover something new? The learning could be big or small, obvious or unexpected. It could even be that something didn’t work and you can cross it off your list. That is the feeling I am chasing. Every. Single. Day. As a creative problem solver, I love making connections and drawing inspiration from unconnected situations and people. I approach my work by knowing that... Continue Reading
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