How to build a career plan when my future job has not been invented yet?
You are a student in high school or college, and you do not know what to reply when those questions pop up: “What are you going to do next year? What are you going to study? What will your future job be? “. Do you not know yet what your ideal career is? Does it confuse you when you get all types of advises around the matter? Do you find all those pre-set jobs’ lists inadequate, obsolescent, outdated? Do you find yourself lost when you look at the market today and what new jobs could be created in the coming years? Yes? Then this article is for you. It will turn your doubts into clarity and will offer you the opportunity to build a concrete action plan, highlight key steps and prepare you with practical tips.
When we are in high school, it looks like it is our duty to already decide upon a professional path. Basically, when we are 16, we are queried to know what we are going to study for the next 2 to 10 years. And as a result of facts, it will also determine our career, which means the next 10 to 20 years. It sounds a little bit like a heavy package to carry on your shoulders, doesn’t it? Especially when you read in some serious papers that in 2030, 85 per cent of the jobs haven’t even been invented yet! (LinkedIn Leo Salemi October 2018).
Ok, let us take a big breath, do not worry and have faith. Indeed, this does not question your potentials! Only a few of us found out their vocations from the start!
I will now share some hints with you. Although they are not meant to be thorough, they will keep you moving and clarify the way up to your future career. And to do so, we do not need to know the type of jobs there will be on the market in the future. Come on, let’s try it out!
No one can eat a whole mammoth in one meal. It is prepared and cut into pieces before.
Some of my teachers praised this metaphor. I am thankful for it. It applies quite well to our situation. Basically, it means:
- Find your professional way might seem unreachable. Focusing only on that giant target can drive you stressed and static.
- « A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step » – Lao-Tseu. You do not know what you will do for living, is it that so important? Not really. What is important is the way to get there and the steps you take.
- To find that out, it is crucial to identify the necessary steps to get there and plan them one after the other. You cut the mammoth into pieces, right? This will make the task look feasible and you will get some immediate outcomes out of it. You progress towards your objective smoothly and you enjoy it!
What are your thoughts about this? What does it make you feel like doing? Ready to try it out?
Which steps are we talking about? Let me suggest some inspiring ones to you.
1 – Explore your professional interests
Let us say the job you will have has not been invented yet, what does prevent you from looking at what feeds your motivation for the time being?
Indeed, several studies pinpoint that the employees who succeed best, are the employees who have a job that truly complies with their inner motivations.
You do not have to find out straight away about THE job you intend to do. You can start to dig into which professional areas you are interested in and inspire you the most.
Make your list of stimulating activities: use your past experiences and try also to imagine yourself in different contexts in the future.
- Do you feel glad when you give a hand to someone?
- Do you feel fulfilled when you teach someone?
- Do you enjoy taking care of your garden or pets? Is nature important to you? Do you wish to contribute to its protection?
- Does time go fast when you help your parents to repair their car, their computer, a wall of the house?
- Are you passionate about how human body works, or physical sciences as a whole?
- Are you a structured mind? Do you like to anticipate and plan, ensure the quality of the delivered product or service? Do you enjoy working with figures?
- Do you spend your free time creating jewellery, clothes, paint art on canvas or on computer? Are you an actor, a dancer, do you play piano?
- Do people tell you spontaneously you are a good negotiator? Do you intuitively know how to convince people to buy your ideas in?
Did you answer YES to one or several of those questions? Then you can take it as a start to determine what type of studies/degrees or professional activities would be the most suitable and stimulating to you. Let’s say you find it enriching to improve people’s well-being. Protecting nature is a key value to you. And you find it gratifying to develop practical solutions for it. Wouldn’t it be an option to get a degree in Territorial Development and Transition Engineering, or yet in CSR – Corporate Social Responsibility?
This method comes from a tool called MOTIVA®. I use it for career and study coaching. It puts clear words and designations on professional interests and then relate them to the most relevant educations and jobs.
Map your skills
Now you know better what you like, let us focus on what you believe you can do and learn: your skills. When you choose to study or work in a certain professional area, it is crucial to understand that you will use some key competences daily. Skills consist of: knowledge (theories and concepts), hard skills (expertise), soft skills (interpersonal savvy), and physical aptitudes.
You are interested into how human body works, but it is difficult for you to get good grades in physical sciences. Then, it will be challenging for you to become a doctor or a dentist for instance. You have never liked sports and feel out of breath each time you try to take a run. Again, it can be difficult for you to become a sport teacher.
Let’s try to map your skills now. Let’s find out which abilities you already possess, and which you feel capable of acquiring.
Grab a pen and a sheet of paper. Build a list of skills you find consistent. On my side, I use the following list:
- Help, Interact, Debate, Collaborate
- Calculate, Investigate, Analyse, Evaluate, Decide, Learn, Spatial perception
- Teach, Public speaking, Foreign language speaking, Written communication
- Manage, Organise
- Develop, Create, Realise, Use tools or machines, Repair, IT or Digital mastering
- Artistic proficiency
- Physical aptitudes, Use of 5 senses
Once your list is ready, take the skills one by one and rank them, using the following guidelines:
- Rank your interest for each of them: Low interest / High interest
- Rank how often you use those skills or wish to use them: Seldom / Often
Report the above results in the spreadsheet below:
In the comfort zone, you can find skills you like and are good at, or are on the way to acquire. Using them daily will make you feel energized and contented. It is in your best interest to continue to enrich them and find a professional activity where they are necessary.
In the effort zone, you can find skills you are good at or could learn easily. However, you do not enjoy using them so much. They require more energy from you and do not bring so much satisfaction. You should use them occasionally.
In the development area, you can find skills you would find great to have. They are not acquired yet. They are worth taking time to be taught and turned into comfort zone skills.
Is the message clearer? You’d rather choose a direction, which will enable you to use mainly skills you have in your comfort zone or in your development area!
How do you feel now? What are your main takeaways? What would you like to use?
That is true, we do not know yet what the workplace will offer in some years from now. Let us use this time as an opportunity to get to know ourselves better. And let us turn this work into legitimate strengths. We are right into a digital age. Many think that emotional intelligence (EI) will be the only differentiator we will have in front of artificial intelligence (AI). « The rise of AI makes emotional intelligence more important. It is these human capabilities that will become more and more prized over the next decade. Skills like persuasion, social understanding, and empathy are going to become differentiators as artificial intelligence and machine learning take over our other tasks» – Megan Beck and Barry Libert February 15, 2017 – Harvard Business Review.
Emotional intelligence is going to be highly valued in the coming years. EI means self-awareness of its own emotions, the way we interrelate with others, how we manage stress and our ability to take decisions. Developing this knowledge of yourself will be a genuine skill on the workplace and will grow your self-confidence and your well-being.
MBTI® personality and EQ-I 2.0® emotional intelligence assessments are good tools to reflect upon one’s strengths and improvement areas, throughout different dimensions. Do not hesitate to request to use them during your coaching!
There are other tips and tricks to help you find your professional way when your job has not been invented yet. I share some more with you here, although each of them could be subject to an entire article. I would be pleased to dig into them with you if you feel like it:
- You can experiment Ikigaï to find your life mission. It is a Japanese tool used in personal development. There are many books exploring this topic. The one I recommend is the following: « Ikigai : The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life » – Hector Garcia, Francesc Miralles. It Clarifies your Ikigaï in 35 steps.
- Remember: What was your life dream as a child? Many of us had an idea of our life purpose when little. This idea might be close to what we shall pursue as grown-ups.
- Create: Take time to perform an artistic hobby that inspires you. It will teach you plenty about yourself and get you closer to what you would need and desire in your professional life.
- Explore: Investigate jobs’ databanks. Read, listen, watch around you, travel!
- Experiment: Request to be part of short internships in companies or run surveys, visit different schools… Going to Gemba can indeed reveal your future career. In different countries, there are national days connecting students and young adults, with schools and businesses.
- Share: join specific discussion groups or forums, where you can talk about your questions, ideas, solutions…
- Listen to yourself: meditate, reflect upon your dreams, pay attention to your intuition. Hear your body: does it feel light or heavy when you picture yourself out in a future situation? All those practices can open gates to the right decisions.
What is up now? What are your thoughts about all those suggestions? How can you apply them while your future job is on its way to be invented? Or perhaps will you invent it yourself…?
And do not forget: whatever job you choose, you are unique and the way you will perform it will be unique too!