Four Abilities that Make You Always Employable
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Technology is wonderful. Communication choices have increased. We can source purchases from around the globe. Tools such as GPS mean we’re never lost. Fishermen can track where fish hide. Cars and airplanes can drive and fly themselves. But, these same benefits have caused job skills to become outdated. Everybody is on an endless treadmill of retooling their abilities to stay competitive in the job market. Do you pine for the good old days when hard work and reasonable skills meant lifetime employment?
Technology Targets Mid-Level Earners for Unemployment
When we returned to civilian life, my wife decided to get back into nursing. Little did she know how much the field had changed in six years. Hospitals had implemented new electronic charting programs. She had to learn about new medications, procedures, and regulations. She had to earn a masters degree to get into management.
Farming, manufacturing, service businesses, no industry is immune from technology’s impact. The pace seems only to quicken. I wrote a few weeks ago about how unmanned aerial vehicles could destroy many jobs for pilots. Think about what self-driving cars would do to taxi and Uber drivers.
What do you do to protect yourself from becoming obsolete?
As wages for an occupation rise, the incentive to replace people with machines goes up too. Low wage jobs aren't worth the investment necessary to replace them with technology. High-paying jobs entail skills that machines can't replicate. Those in the middle, roughly $50,000 to $90,000 per year are most vulnerable. Hence, you see an enlarging gap between low and high-income earners.
Yet, for all the talk about artificial intelligence, a computer or robot can't replace every skill.
At first glance, you may think none of them relate to military work. Take a second look. Most service members used at least one of them on a regular basis. By applying it to a private sector field and improving it, you can take yourself out of the technology line of fire.
Skills that Don't Lose Their Value
You don't need to excel in all four of these skills to get a high-paying job. Master one and you are well on your way to a secure six-figure income. Stand out in two and your employment worries are over.
Innovate. All organizations must innovate to stay alive. Even nonprofits have to find new and better ways to fundraise and deliver services. Contrary to popular belief, no one is born with an innovation gene. You learn this skill. Did you create new policies or procedures while in the military? The young aircraft maintainers I worked with did so all the time. Limited resources stimulated creativity.
Start with learning everything you can about your chosen private sector field. Identify the problems it faces. Crate an inventive solution to one of them. Now here’s where your military experience gives you the edge. Lots of people can come up with an idea. Your military training will help you work out an implementation plan. Stuck on how to get more ideas? Jack Foster’s outstanding book, How to Get Ideas, will stimulate your mind.
Negotiate. In a world where machines control humans, I suppose they’ll settle our disputes. Until then, we’ll have to resolve our own clashes. If you held a leadership role in the military, you negotiated conflicts. If you were in supply or contracting you negotiated with vendors. Does your resume list the hundreds of thousand or millions of dollars you negotiated?
No surprise most private sector organizations need this skill. Is dealmaking a part of your chosen field? Getting people to agree to a business arrangement takes the same abilities as mediating conflict. Start by learning all you can about previous deals in your industry. What made them work? What motivated the parties to come together? Oren Klaff’s Pitch Anything will give you're a primer in private sector dealmaking.
Interrelate. Technology can facilitate communication. But it can't create relationships. You’ve heard it a million times. It’s not what you know but whom you know. It’s half true today. Most organizations don't keep dead weight around. So unless your job is to develop relationships, you’ll need other skills that benefit the company. But without relationships, you won't get the chance to use them. That’s why its one of the 5 Steps You Need to Take to Get a High-Paying Job.
In the military, getting a peer or senior to help you with a task took relationship-building skills. Did you attract the notice of your commanding officer? If not, do you know someone who did? Think about the actions he took. How did he make the initial connection? How did he groom the relationship over time? In How to Be a Power Connector, Judy Robinett explains the steps you need to take.
Sell. If no one buys a company’s goods or services it won't stay in business. Whether it sells them face-to-face, through retail outlets, or online, people drive the process. Technology can aid it. But human communication and ideas close the transaction. Even nonprofits need people who can sell their message and raise money.
You may not perceive it this way, but to advance in the military you marketed yourself. Since you believe in yourself, it was an easy sale. If you were a recruiter, you did some of the toughest selling out there. In the private sector, high pressure, sleazy used-car-type selling doesn't fly today. Companies need people adept at helping clients determine the benefits of their products and services. Polish your sales skills using Tonya Reiman’s The Yes Factor.
Most veterans don't realize they have these valuable, evergreen skills. Review your career and find accomplishments that highlight them. Put them in your resume. Now get to work improving them.
Which of these skills do you have? How are you improving it?
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