How many of us can truly say our jobs are exactly what we expected? For a lot of us, we're doing roles that didn't even exist when we began our careers. From information architect to mobile app developer, there are thousands of jobs today that didn't exist when the experts in those fields began their training. So, where will the job market go next?
Though fundamental skills remain the same, the ever-changing world of technology means that new specializations are developing all the time, and are being driven by the people and businesses who spot the opportunity and take it.
Very early in my career, I knew I was passionate about design and technology but struggled to bring them together. Over time, I saw an opportunity in the new field of interaction design (what later became user experience, or UX) and jumped at the chance of merging my two passions. Focusing on what I loved, rather than training for a specific role, allowed me the chance to build a career around my personal interests. This will certainly become more and more important as the tech industry and the career landscape continue to develop.
Even with such an unpredictable future and tons of job possibilities out there, there are ways that you can prepare. Here are some key things to keep in mind that can help you be ready, even for a job title you've never heard of yet:
Focus on transferable skills.
At the beginning of their career, people frequently concentrate on a sector specialization -- they want to find a route into a particular industry. However, once you've got a few years of experience under your belt, career development is often more about making smarter use of your transferable skills. New roles come from having the ability to analyze data, empathize with customer needs, motivate teams or to keep projects on schedule, rather than simply having an expert understanding of a particular sector.
Always look ahead.
An understanding of emerging technology and how it impacts your area of expertise is extremely important for people of all levels. Keeping a close eye on what the latest is in your field is a crucial habit for anyone looking to seize an opportunity and to stand out among competition. My career would have taken a very different direction had I not jumped into a brand new field. Especially in the tech world, it's important to keep your eyes open to understand where the industry is going and seize the right opportunity.
And of course, follow your passion.
This might sound cliché, but it is my No. 1 piece of advice. Following your passion -- be it meaty problems or domains that really engage your strengths -- will allow you to turn a job into a lifelong career. When I was starting out, it didn't seem that tech and design could intersect, but I kept pursuing those fields because that's what I loved to do. And ultimately, they came together. The perfect job will not always be right in front of you, but focusing on your interests can lead to exciting opportunities.
So, what are some of those jobs we might see people going into as tech evolves and new industries spring to life? Sci-fi writer Max Gladstone has a few ideas for what some of these futuristic jobs might be that are fun to imagine. Think: a cloud cleaner that helps get rid of that huge digital footprint you've acquired, a digital archaeologist who unearths info through defunct programming languages or a fabric programmer who can instantly 3D print the perfect piece of clothing.
The possibilities are truly endless when we think of all the different ways technology can intersect and the different fields it will impact.
Until these jobs become realities (or if completely different ones take their place), employees can still make sure they're prepared. Keep your eyes open to the opportunities as they arise, recognize your skills, follow your passions, and you'll be in a strong position to find the right job for you, even if it doesn't yet exist.
Related Video: 3 Qualities You Need to Constantly Advance Your Career