How to make sure you stay employable instead of just employed.
Don’t let the impressive job numbers fool you. Given the advances in machine learning, robotics, and automation, more five, six and potentially seven-figure jobs that fuel the middle and lower upper class will be gone. (Note: This isn’t a political statement; it is a reality statement.) Your key to success and wealth creation will be based on your ability to stay employable instead of employed.
Think about the scene from the movie in which the “Human Computers” had great jobs working at NASA. They did all of the advanced mathematics for the space program. Wow! Can you imagine having a job title of “Human Computer?” If I did, I know that I would look forward to going to cocktail parties and having people ask me what I did. Those good jobs were about to become gone ones. NASA was in the process of installing its first mainframe computer. The leader of the human computers department asked her manager what was going to happen to the group once the mainframe started working? She knew what the answer was. Instead of freaking out, the leader snuck into the computer room and taught her how to program the mainframe. In addition, she taught her co-workers. This situation is a perfect example of “re-skilling and up-skilling” yourself. To do so, you will have to have two skills: one behavior and the other technical. The behavior skills are:
1. Overcome FUD. Be able to fight the fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) that always come
with change. In other words, you have to be able to fight the FUD and don’t let it
paralyze you and become a victim of the “boiled frog” syndrome.
2. Don’t Let Your Comfort Zone Confine You. Being willing to step outside your comfort
zone and start from ground zero again. That is what the leader did when she went
from being a human computer to a programmer.
3. Continue to Learn. Having the confidence in not what you know but in your ability to
There are five technical skills you will need to be employable in addition to your domain (engineering, accounting, IT, nursing, welding, plumbing, etc.) expertise:
Design skills: The ability to conceptualize, organize, and prioritize.
Interpersonal skills: The ability to work with others who have different backgrounds, personalities, nationalities, insights, and skills.
Change management skills: The ability to identify what the critical success factors and critical path are; the risks and how to mitigate them; and the key stakeholders and how to influence them.
Project management skills: Based on the change management plan, to then develop a project plan to execute.
Problem-solving skills: There is no such thing as a perfect plan. Problems will always occur. A person’s ability to stay focus, identify what the issues are, and work with others to solve them are the critical success factors.
To always be employable, you will need both behavioral and technical skills. People who don’t have them will, unfortunately, wind up being either unemployed or underemployed. Those that have them will create tremendous wealth both financially and socially. Just like the leader in the movie, they will create success for themselves and others.
About the image: Melba Roy Mouton, pictured next to an electronic computer, was the leader of a group of human computers who helped track satellites in the early 1960s. This is the photo on the cover of "Hidden Human Computers: The Black Women of NASA." (NASA)