Five ways to future-proof your job


This is the year for the job seeker. With global record low unemployment rates and the dearth supply of talent, never have your transferable skills been so highly coveted. No matter the economic climate, they remain your golden ticket, even in a world possessed by artificial intelligence and ChatGPT.

Future-proof skills are those talents and attributes that are portable to different jobs, industries and even careers. Opportunity has been aplenty for anyone with the desire to change jobs, seek promotions or even embark on a new career.

But what of the R-word that is top of mind for many people? A recession? Even more reason to ensure your future by harnessing your transferable skills.

how to future proof your job

Here are my top five transferable skills to acquire, muster and master.

1. Interpersonal skills

How well do you relate to people? Your interpersonal skills influence how others feel about you and respond to you in return. Employers love hiring people with this gift because building relationships improves the working environment and a manager's life.

People with great interpersonal skills are patient, listen intently, collaborate and know when to push and when to hold back.

They are flexible and understand well their impact on others. Their self-awareness is on point. Superior interpersonal skills are relied upon in all jobs, levels, industries and teams.

2. Communication

This is the bedrock of noteworthy people skills. Potent communication requires emotional intelligence and strong self-awareness. An adept communicator sees right to the core of a difficult scenario.

With increased remote and hybrid working models, and less face-to-face time, effective communication is relied upon even more. Expert communicators help others to be visible, heard and seen - a critical factor in virtual and online teams.

Communication in its basic form is listening and speaking. At a higher level, it correctly interprets situations, having empathy, putting yourself in others' shoes and reading the not-so-obvious cues and signals.

Those people who "read" your mind are great communicators, picking up on the silent messages that even you are not aware of sending. It is a beneficial skill for negotiation, team dynamics and influencing.

3. Initiative

You get things done. Ideas, innovations and the best of plans are all well and good but useless if not implemented. Self-starters are highly organised, think ahead and use critical thinking to foresee obstacles. They have back-up plans on the ready and then another - just in case.

Typically, seasoned self-starters are meticulous with planning. A deadline is adhered to and taken seriously, and they are masters (due to their advanced interpersonal skills) at holding team members accountable for their part. They do not procrastinate or get caught up in day-to-day minutiae.

Managers bestow responsibility on those they can trust to get a job done. An employee deft at executing a project, plan or task adds exceptional value to a team and business.

4. Adaptability

Surely as a result of the pandemic, everyone's adaptability has had to shine through.

If not, you better be sure to focus on this quickly. Our world is guaranteed to keep changing, adjusting and morphing at an increasing rate. Adapt, adopt, or not. Choose 'not', and you will be left behind.

5. Curiosity

The more you enquire, the more there is to know.

Curiosity and learning go hand in hand, and learning is foremost in keeping transferable skills relevant. When curious, you investigate further, questioning assumptions and rethinking opinions that are potentially outdated - an essential quality to support fresh ideas and current needs in our changing work arena.

Curiosity accelerates your learning and acquisition of knowledge. The greater your understanding, the closer you become to being an expert. It also makes you more humble. The more you develop and increase your knowledge, the more you notice how much more you need to grow.

Striving for mastery and excellence takes you to the top of your field, holding a competitive advantage to become highly employable.

The new working environment of 2023 and of the future demands numerous adaptabilities. Fortunately, we have many transferable skills right at our fingertips.

They require constant development and awareness. It is not any skill or experience, but the right skills to lead you on the path towards career fulfilment, security and employability.

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Roxanne Calder is the founder and managing director of Sydney-based administration recruitment agency, EST10. She is the author of Employable: 7 Attributes to Assuring Your Working Future, and holds an MBA from the  Australian Graduate School of Management at UNSW.