By Adam Mendler, CEO of The Veloz Group.
The actor Steve Guttenberg once observed, "A career is a series of ups and downs, of comebacks." There is no linear path to success and the only certainty is uncertainty. Regardless of the industry you are in, your career is in some way subject to forces outside of your control. Technological innovation has and will disrupt millions of careers, with a recent study from PwC suggesting that nearly 40 percent of American jobs will be automated by 2030. On the other side of the equation, businesses focused on developing and applying artificial intelligence in unique ways have and will drive countless new employment opportunities. You may not know what your career will be in the future because it may be a career that does not yet exist.
So how can you prepare for the uncertain professional road ahead? Tolstoy noted more than a century ago, "Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself." Follow these tips:
Develop a Broad-Based Skill Set
Some of the best advice I received early on is that we are likely to have five or six different careers over the course of our lifetimes and that we should prepare accordingly by developing a skill set broad enough to adapt to any new professional pursuit. It is important to build expertise to help distinguish yourself from the many others in your line of work, but it is also critical to create and retain flexibility so you are not at the mercy of the winds of change. No what matter what profession you are in, look for ways to learn new and adjacent skills. And no matter how successful you become, do not allow yourself to become complacent.
Build a Large and Robust Network
There is a famous saying about the importance of relationships when it comes to professional success: It's not what you know, it's who you know. I believe that both what you know and who you know will prove to be extremely valuable over the course of one's career, so it is crucial to invest not only in building your skill set but developing your network. People like doing business with people they like, and when your career is upended by change, you will benefit greatly by having relationships with people at other companies who will be in a position to throw you a lifeline. In my career, I have found that I've gotten about half of the jobs and internships I have had strictly because of my credentials (I applied without knowing anyone in or connected to the organization) while I got the other half based on relationships with people who could vouch for me. Increase your odds by growing your network.
Stay on Top of the News and Trends
Even the most astute among us are often embarrassed trying to predict what will happen next. If we knew exactly what would happen tomorrow, sportsbooks would not exist. But we can get a feel for what is to come by staying informed, consuming the information that is available and having an appreciation for history and for trends. We know that history repeats itself, so take the time to understand what is going on around you and the impact it may have on what is yet to come. Fortunately, we live in an era where news and information have ever been more easily accessible. Unfortunately, it can be challenging to discern news from noise, and many sources are highly inaccurate, often by design. Listen to voices that have proven to be trustworthy and seek a wide range of perspectives.
Excel at Whatever You Are Doing
We only have so much time and energy, so don't waste it worrying about things beyond your control. Instead, focus on what is within your purview and excel at whatever endeavor you are pursuing. No matter what you do next in your career, developing a reputation of excellence will help position you well. Employers look for a track record of success when hiring candidates. And because many of the jobs of the future will be brand new, the type of experience will matter less than the quality of the experience. Proving you can master a craft engenders confidence that you can master the next one, regardless of what it is, even if it does not yet exist.
Adam Mendler is CEO of The Veloz Group and founder of Beverly Hills Chairs, Custom Tobacco and Veloz Solutions