Career counselors, coaches, and other professionals who help clients with career issues often ask: How can I help my clients become robot-proof?
I’d start with helping them to focus on four specific transferable skills.
Sure, there are hundreds of transferable skills, and different work situations inevitably demand different capabilities. But four skills stand out that job-hunters, career changers, and anyone who’s working need to focus on. These are:
Problem-solving. As Dick Bolles often said, the main reason someone is hired is to solve problems. It helps, of course, if you’re solving problems you love. But if a worker’s basic frame of mind is on solving problems, they are far more likely to be hired than someone who can’t speak in the language of problem-solving.
Adaptive. It used to be that nothing in life was certain but death and taxes, and in an era of life extension and digital currencies, these might be at risk. What is inevitable is the pace of change: If you thought self-driving cars were in the realm of science fiction, you won’t believe what’s just around the bend. So we all need to be adaptive problem-solvers, because the pace of change isn’t likely to slow down any time soon.
Creative. If you’re just solving the same rote problems over and over again - well, that’s going to be the domain of robots and software. Your clients need to be creative problem-solvers, always bringing their ability to innovate to the table.
Entrepreneurial. There will always be work that allows someone to simply sit and let problems come to them: There just won’t be a lot of it in the future. Workers need to be proactive problem solvers who go find problems and solve them. Now, that doesn’t mean that everyone needs to be an entrepreneur, starting their own business (although that’s a great strategy too). What it does mean is that people need to think entrepreneurially - which is basically to be a problem-solver for a customer or client. Even if a worker’s “customer” is someone inside their own organization, that worker still needs to focus on solving that customer’s thorniest problems.
Of course, it’s not by accident that those four transferable skills - Problem-solvers who are Adaptive, Creative and Entrepreneurial - spell out PACE. The pace of change is accelerating -- and your clients will need to practice these four skills to keep up.
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