Don’t Be Left Behind!  5 Keys to Career Development in the Workplace of the Future

Career Development

We are living in a business climate of intense change and what seems to be a constant transition.  It’s hard to keep up with all that’s going on while following the latest news on artificial intelligence (AI), automation, driverless cars, and other cutting-edge technology.  In fact, it’s estimated that AI and automated robots could eliminate 73 million jobs in the U.S. (494 million jobs in major global markets) by 2030.*  Only the life science professionals that bend and shift with the times will remain essential and valuable to their organization.

Unfortunately, employees seem to be the largest group left behind due to organizational transition and technological development.  Layoffs are planned and jobs are eliminated based on end of year performance metrics, department evaluations, and the dreaded “reorganization.”  It seems as though almost every company from mid-size to enterprise level goes through this intense, operational scrutiny on an annual basis.  It’s been reported that the youngest members of the Baby Boomer Generation held an average of 11.7 different jobs from ages 18-48.  Based on that information and the latest trends, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects younger generations to hold even more jobs throughout their career.*  In order to excel, you must be prepared.  Here are 5 keys to career development in the future workplace.


Enhance your critical thinking skills

Are you a problem solver?  Can you address critical issues that come up in the laboratory or conference room with a level head?  Due to rapid changes in technology and in the marketplace, being able to resolve challenges can make you almost irreplaceable.  If you can motivate others through collaborative communication while solving problems, there’s a good chance that you’ll be seen as a leader.  If you are not usually a problem solver, start doing more research on issues that come up regularly.  Study how other people attain positive results or benefits.  Eventually, you’ll be able to start applying the information you’ve learned to new situations.

Think long-term

Only thinking about short-term results and problems can be very limiting to your career opportunities.  Do you think about things three to five steps ahead?  Have you considered if you’d like to be in your current job four to six years from now?  Many people are so consumed by their day-to-day lives that they never think about or plan for their future.  While thinking long term, you want to maintain the flexibility to change your mind or your plan if necessary.  Can your current role be replaced by computer automation or a robot?  Many entry-level positions and less skilled roles would be the main targets to be eliminated.

Find a mentor

No one is an expert in everything.  Having a relationship with a mentor can assist you in a variety of ways including navigating politics in the workplace, improving your reputation, and evaluating job options.  A mentor might also be able to provide insight on industry trends that can affect you in the future.  A lot of people don’t seriously pursue mentorship because they don’t know where to find a great mentor.  You can learn more about how to find a mentor and how to approach someone to mentor you in some of our previous articles.

Embrace lifetime learning

Are you constantly refreshing your skills?  Do you actively seek more knowledge about your field?  Due to the fast speed of innovation, consistent learning is something that can set you apart from other colleagues and job candidates.  Science is always changing and regardless of where you are in your career, odds are that there have been significant advancements since your college graduation.  If your organization isn’t providing the resources and support for you to stay current in your field, it’s in your best interest to join professional associations, networking groups, and other industry associations. 

Don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself

It’s common for professionals to have their entire sense of identity wrapped up in their job.  They can base their level of importance on their job title or how much money they’re making.  In those cases, if the person is laid off they might feel like a failure or that they don’t have much to offer another company.  If you’re a top performer who has kept up with current trends in your industry, you are in the perfect position to reinvent yourself.  Technology can eliminate jobs but it also creates the need for new ones.  Resist the fear of uncertainty or worry about how others will perceive you for trying something new. 

The workplace of the future brings many challenges to the current status quo along with new opportunities for life science professionals.  Immense change is coming whether you are prepared or not.  Enhancing your critical thinking skills, planning for the long term, and finding a mentor can keep you on track.  Continuing to learn new things and not being afraid to reinvent yourself can aid in your career development.  What is one thing you can do today to prepare for the future?

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Porschia Parker is a Certified Coach, Professional Resume Writer, and Founder of Fly High Coaching. She empowers ambitious professionals and motivated executives to add $10K on average to their salaries.

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