6 ways to future-proof your career in an AI world

Increased use of AI (artificial intelligence) and other new technologies means changes. Instead of fretting over what may happen to your profession, prepare for whatever new reality awaits. Try the following strategies to future-proof your career and keep yourself moving forward.

Assess your starting position

The low-hanging fruit for technology has almost always been relatively low-value and repetitive tasks. The current iteration of the information revolution has also seen the automation of tasks that involve crunching masses of data (looking at medical X-rays is the classic example — and paralegals and more-junior accountancy roles are also thought to be at risk). Assess your job and ask yourself how much of it falls into (or is likely to soon fall into) at-risk categories like these.

Focus on what AI cannot do

The list of what machines aren’t good at is currently a long one. They can’t, for instance, inspire and lead a team, their “emotions” are simulated rather than real, they can’t develop long-term strategy, and they can’t deal with complex, multifaceted client relationships. They’re not yet good at genuinely creative and innovative tasks, and, while they’re great at recognising patterns, they’re far less adept at making intuitive connections between disparate fields. So focus your efforts on areas like these and do more of them.

Embrace change and keep your skills fresh

The pace of change is accelerating — the knowledge and skills that once endured for decades now last a few years. It sounds almost counterintuitive, but the best way to protect your role from being made obsolete by changing technology is to clasp technology as close to you as possible. Adopt a positive mindset. Avail yourself of any training that is offered and constantly look for new ways to do your job and new technologies you can use. Incorporate those technologies into your job and automate tasks that can be automated. You need to strike a balance, though. Don’t grab at every fashionable new development because many of these will be forgotten in a year. Be discerning and look for tools that actually make you more productive and useful.

Keep up with developments

Stay abreast of developments and news in your sector. You want to know what’s coming down the line — good or bad. Nothing should come as a surprise. Don’t focus too narrowly. Read about what is happening in adjacent fields. This will make you more rounded and more adaptable and will deliver more insights. These nearby sectors may also provide escape routes if AI or other technologies disrupt your own field or company. Dozens of businesses have pivoted from one area to another nearby sector when they saw the writing on the wall.

Remember relationships

Jobs are still largely about relationships — and companies are still composed of people. Whether it’s your boss, your team or your clients, relationships with those around you and your network will remain hugely important. Moreover, emotional connection is a thing that AI cannot replicate — at the moment. AI is essentially guessing patterns and so will give you a likeliest response, not genuine feeling. Work on real human connection with colleagues and clients. Actually spend time with them in the same physical space, get them to trust you, know you, and rely on you.

Work on your personal brand

In an increasingly fluid and fast-changing world, being widely known as a skilled and dependable professional is hugely valuable. Put some real effort into building your reputation. Be strategic here. Think about what you want to be known for and the context — for instance, someone who deeply understands the intersection of finance and technology. Then get your name out there. Here, you might opt to go a bit pre-COVID-19 pandemic. Attend events. Offer to appear on panels. Best of all, put yourself forward to speak at events. The person on stage always looks like a leader.


Adapted from: “6 ways to future-proof your career in an AI world”, by Rhymer Rigby, FM magazine contributor and author of The Careerist: Over 100 Ways to Get Ahead at Work, published on FM magazine on 15 December 2023.

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