Career Coach, Professional Resume Writer, Freelancer Writer
The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the future of work in ways we could hardly have imagined only two years ago. Things such as remote work, accelerated digital transformation, increased use of AI and AR have all contributed to a fluid and dynamic workplace. Now how, where and when we work is constantly evolving.
As the way we work changes, so do the skills we need to stay relevant and successful in the workplace. In fact, there are estimates that 42% of the core skills required to perform existing jobs will change by next year. While companies work on developing comprehensive training programs to meet their strategic goals, it’s your responsibility to own your career trajectory and be intentional about the skills you hone and acquire.
So, what can you do to make sure your skills are indispensable in the ever-evolving labor market? Here we look at how to stay relevant in the workplace and develop a professional development plan that will keep your career and future workplace skills on the right track.
Expand Your Skills Beyond Your Core Job Description
As business needs change, companies estimate that around 40% of workers will require reskilling by 2025. 94% of business leaders expect employees to pick up new skills on the job. This sends a clear message that employees must stay proactive about their own professional development.
You might have been in your job for years and you know your tasks inside out. However, that is not enough when considering how to stay relevant in your workplace. There is just no guarantee that your skills will be in high demand in the future. So, rather than waiting for top-down instructions, why not take things in your own hands?
You can invest in your own development by looking at adjacent skills to your current job or by picking up brand new competencies altogether. Perhaps you are a content writer for a marketing team. Then you can also learn about the latest trends in content strategy, graphic design or Google Analytics. Likewise, if you’re an engineer and you’ve been working mostly with Python, you can look into Java, C++ or another programming language.
Finally, rather than expanding exclusively within your current field of work, look at what other competencies you might need to thrive in the workplace. For instance, take a look at the top 15 skills for 2025 and future workplace skills and opportunities for growth. Remote leadership skills, critical thinking and emotional intelligence are some of the competencies that can help you in your career regardless of what you do.
Get Familiar with the Latest Technologies
COVID-19 has led many businesses to adopt new technologies, accelerating their digital transformation by three to four years. New digital tools, cloud-based management systems and even AI and machine learning technologies are transforming how we work.
It’s no surprise, then, that technology is an important part of your professional development. Being familiar with the latest tools in your industry and occupation can directly influence how successful you’re down the line.
You might have a handful of productivity and project management tools you use on a daily basis. Nevertheless, you should research emerging technologies that are shaping your industry right now. How will they impact your work a year or five years from now?
Take a look at some of the current tech trends in the workplace. Pay attention to what the top players in your industry are doing. Going beyond your industry, explore how technology can help you grow as a professional overall. There are a myriad of digital tools that you can start exploring: from Asana, Mural and Basecamp that empower employees to work together and manage projects across remote teams, to Notion, Trello and Todoist that help you organize your time better and stay on top of your tasks.
Take on Extra Responsibilities
Last year we saw a landslide of layoffs across many industries. Even the tech sector was not immune to it. The number of tech startup employees laid off worldwide since the outbreak has been steadily increasing. Businesses have become more vulnerable to market volatilities. Many employers have even been forced to make the tough decision to let some of their talent go, which is why so many employees are trying to figure out how to stay relevant in their workplace.
Instead of fearing this reality, you can look at it as an opportunity to showcase what else you can do. What are the challenges your employer faces at the moment that you can help with?
Say the company is looking to develop a new sustainability strategy. Luckily, this happens to be something you are passionate about. So, why not get in touch with the responsible colleagues and offer to work on the strategy draft? Or, if the company is struggling with finding a learning management system, and you have extensive experience with e-learning, why not volunteer your expertise?
Chances are that your initiatives will help the business at a crucial time. At the same time, this will give you an opportunity to learn some new skills, stand out and prove yourself as an invaluable member of the team. Not to mention that these types of experiences are great for your resume and your overall professional development.
Lend a Helping Hand, and Help Yourself
Another way to become an indispensable part of any workforce is to be the most reliable person on the team and tie yourself into the company’s institutional knowledge.
In 2021, voluntary employee turnover in the U.S. reached 25%. That’s a big number of people moving across businesses and taking their company knowledge with them. At the same time, new people join companies every day and have to learn the business inside out.
Why not serve as the glue that ties both ends together? Why not offer to serve as an onboarding buddy that can help new hires integrate into the company culture faster? You can help with training on company processes, product knowledge, customer insights etc.. You’ll be making them feel welcome and more confident from the outset. At the same time, you can transcend your day job and increase your own value as an employee.
You can apply this approach to existing teams as well. Volunteer your help either through simply responding to any questions they might have, or lending them a hand with a bigger project. This will not just help you thrive in the workplace and become the go-to-person for other colleagues. It will also give you an edge because you would acquire a much better understanding of how different parts of the business operate.
It’s All About Being Proactive
Dynamic times call for dynamic approaches, especially if you are looking at how to stay relevant. If you want to increase the chances to keep and grow in your job, now is not the time to sit back and wait for your superior to pull you up. On the contrary, the future of work belongs to those who’re able to acquire new skills, recognize new opportunities and learn how to quickly adapt to changing work environments.
Upskilling and proactive approaches towards your professional development can help you stay relevant in the workplace. It also helps to uncover new interests and topics that can enrich your professional life and build a fulfilling career.