Hold On to Your Job

There’s been a lot written about artificial intelligence, and many fear their jobs will disappear as a result of driverless cars or self-checkout lanes in stores. The truth is, for decades your work has been replaced by automation in factories and by personal computers, but you found a way to adapt. Adaptation is the key.

There are jobs that are less likely to be replaced by artificial intelligence and skills you can develop to help you keep your job.

What jobs are at risk of being replaced due to AI?

The jobs disappearing today include bank tellers, receptionists and customer service representatives. Jobs like accounting clerks, legal assistants, even surgeons are at risk in the near future. Any job that follows predictable steps can be automated. For example, restaurants have begun implementing stations where you place your own order, eliminating the need for workers. In some instances, business processes change to accommodate automation. Where one person may have been responsible for many tasks, the tasks that are easily automated are taken over by robots.

A better question is, what jobs or functions can’t be automated? The short answer is, any job that requires creativity or where human-to-human interaction is vital. A robot might have difficulty addressing the pros and cons or consequences of medical procedures. They lack empathy or the ability to interpret the patient’s emotions. Creating an advertising campaign requires a higher level of creativity and understanding of human psychological traits, which would be difficult for robots to replicate. Motivating a team or group to implement procedural changes isn’t something a robot could manage, either.

The real risk isn’t losing your job, but losing certain functions of your job that are easily automated. This will require you to adapt and possibly update your skills for next-level responsibilities.

Develop skills that make you irreplaceable.

Your job security now and into the future requires that you out-think the robots. Robots are great at repetitive tasks, searching data, or any task that doesn’t require adapting, creative thinking or making decisions.

You need a basic understanding of technology to outsmart robots. Make sure you stay on top of the latest tools of the trade. Even a basic understanding of coding or any specific STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skill enhances your ability to understand the root cause of a problem. At this time, only a human can creatively develop solutions to address interpersonal or operational solutions.

And don’t discount the soft skills. Soft skills range from interpersonal communication to complex problem-solving with dozens of skills in between. Learn how to negotiate, speak in public, resolve conflict, build cohesive teams or think like a designer. These are things robots just can’t do.

Developing emotional intelligence is another way to hold on to your job. Emotional intelligence includes your self-awareness, self-management, empathy and social effectiveness. Honing skills within these areas not only improves your performance, you also enhance skills artificial intelligence can’t compete with. Your ability to motivate, influence and assess people makes you a valuable asset to any team.

Ready, set, learn.

¬†According to Accenture’s Creating the Future Workforce study, 90 percent of the U.S. workforce is optimistic about technology and 80 percent have a positive attitude about the use of automation. So it comes as no surprise that 86 percent of the U.S. workers surveyed said they would invest in training during their free time. The next logical question is where to find relevant, affordable training to invest in?

Check professional associations for webinars available to members. There are MOOCs (massive open online courses) by top educational institutions and training portals like LinkedIn’s Lynda or Udemy.com, which host thousands of courses. Ask around and see if anyone can recommend local, in-person classes. And don’t forget to see what training your employer offers. Attending a college or university to acquire a degree may not be the wisest investment. Enhancing your soft skills shouldn’t take two to four years to complete. You may want to investigate shorter-term leadership programs or classes that include experiential learning. One of the best ways to learn soft skills is through practice. Identifying a mentor with strengths in areas you are looking to improve allows you to practice and get immediate feedback.

Practice flexibility.

You crave stability, but you also value flexibility. One thing is certain, the nature of jobs will continue to morph. If you keep an open mind and are receptive to change, it will be easier for you to survive in the tumultuous world of work. You also must realize that you will not stay in one job forever. Even if you hold the same job title, the type of work you do and the role will look very different after several years. If you choose to stay with one company, you will hold several different roles, learning new skills in each. As you consider new opportunities, look for companies that celebrate flexible work offerings, encourage a collaborative work culture and offer resources for your professional development. Companies that offer these benefits are more likely to help you stay a step ahead of the robots. At the end of the day, it is up to you to manage your performance, skill development and happiness at work.