Adapt your 'self' for success

In our first article, Build your skills for the new world of work, we set out the five most in-demand skills for the future professional. Now, we reveal the attributes you’ll need to capitalise on them.

Adapting your ‘self’ to new models of employment

It’s not just jobs and skills that are changing. We’re also seeing a fundamental shift in relationships between people and employers. In this new working world, it will be increasingly important to manage, market and develop yourself.

We’re already experiencing a shift to more flexible working. This is enabled by technology, driven by changing employee expectations and the growing need for business efficiency and agility.

But we’re now also experiencing a more significant change. The decline of traditional, permanent employment models and the rapid expansion of the ‘Gig Economy’ and ‘Human Cloud’ will see four in ten professionals working as contractors, freelancers or contingent workers by 2020. Nearly one in six of all people are already now self-employed, according to the Office for National Statistics. And, according to MGI Research, between 20 to 30 per cent of working age people in the US and across the EU are also working independently.

The good news is that two in three contingent workers believe the benefits of contingent working outweigh the downsides, according to EY research from November 2016. What you lose in terms of job security, benefits and paid holiday is made up for by greater freedom to choose which projects you work on, alongside more autonomy and more flexibility.

The Gig Economy and Human Cloud – what are they?

Gig Economy: A way of working that is based on people having temporary jobs or doing separate pieces of work, each paid separately, rather than working for an employer.

Human Cloud: A type of workforce where tasks or projects, not jobs, are performed remotely and on-demand by people who are not employees but independent workers.

Honing the four pillars of your successful self

Let’s say you’ve developed some of the most in-demand skills and possess all the professional qualifications and relevant experience required for a role. What happens next? Well, more than ever before, the answer is in your own hands. Here are four key attributes that will help set your ‘self’ up for success:

1. Self-reliance and resilience:

Continual change and innovation make for a more exciting and interesting working life. However, to cope with multiple jobs – even multiple careers – often with less job security and more uncertainty, we will need emotional resilience – self-belief, self-confidence and the ability to bounce back. This will also require greater self-awareness – not only of our strengths and weaknesses, but of our emotional and physical wellbeing. In a working world where we may have to work until we are nearly 70 – and without paid holidays if we work for ourselves – we will need to take more responsibility for ourselves.

“Do not be embarrassed by your failures. Learn from them and start again.” - Sir Richard Branson.

2. Self-development:

Persistence is now one of the top soft skills required by employers, according to LinkedIn, with firms looking for people who are driven, determined and prepared to persist. If you join the gig economy and no longer have a boss or employer, it will be vital for you to motivate yourself. It is also important to invest in your own success, anticipating the skills sets that are going to be in demand and acquiring these through training and development.

3. Self-promotion:

In a world of word-of-mouth recruitment where more than half of all jobs are gained through personal recommendation, building your own “brand” is the way to get noticed. This is a skill and an activity that many tend to neglect, but there’s plenty of advice out there to help you hone and develop your skills. Just be prepared – it may well require you to step outside your comfort zone.

4. But not all by yourself:

Creating your own network has never been more important. Within organisations, mentoring, coaching, sponsorship and support are increasingly seen as ways to boost productivity and to help individuals develop and progress. For those in the gig economy, selling their services on the human cloud, networking is not only a way to find opportunities but a way to combat the isolation of working for yourself and to harness the support of others. It is also a way to learn and improve. Whether inside or outside an organisation, collaboration, network-building and nurturing skills are crucial in the new working world.

“We all need people who will give us feedback. That's how we improve.” - Bill Gates

The future is in your hands

“May you live in interesting times” is said to originate from an ancient Chinese curse. As far as the world of work goes, we certainly are in an interesting time. But, contrary to what much recent media coverage would have us believe, it does not have to be a curse.

Despite disruption to an increasing number of roles and sectors, employment still remains at record levels. Yes, technology will fulfil jobs that currently belong to people. But despite wave after wave of innovation through history – from the automation of production lines to the demise of the typing pool – new jobs, and new ways of working, continue to provide new sources of employment. And, what’s more, these jobs are increasingly more interesting as mundane and repetitive tasks become automated. Many jobs will change and new types of jobs will replace them. What’s yet to play out is what shape they will take.

What we know for sure is that those who can adapt and build the right skills – continually – will be in a great position. By identifying and constantly developing the right skills and attributes, you can future proof your career, and capitalise on the greatest opportunities there have ever been to determine your own future.