How to future-proof your career

In a world experiencing exponential change, it’s impossible to future-proof your job. But you can future-proof your career. The term ‘future-proof’ is often used in the technology and medical sectors, where it’s desirable to build products that retain their value and don’t quickly become obsolete.

Eventually, all products become obsolete and get replaced by something else – something bigger, better and more innovative.  The same thing happens with jobs.  Roles disappear, while new ones are created. Of course, your career is more than just a product to be commoditised, and you certainly don’t want to become obsolete. Having a lasting and meaningful career calls for deliberate steps.

  1. Embrace change

How we work, and the nature of work, are changing.  Artificial intelligence, quantum computing, digitisation and what the World Economic Forum is calling the “fourth industrial revolution” means we’re experiencing change at an unprecedented rate.

Get ready for the change by preparing yourself. First, work out what these changes may mean for you, your profession and industry. With that knowledge, you’re better placed to determine what action you need to take.

  1. Know your value proposition

Be clear on the value you offer organisations.  Everyone brings certain skills and ways of operating to the work they do. It’s essential to be able to articulate clearly that value and how you can help an organisation achieve its goals.

  1. Find your learning edge 

Continued career success requires a constant desire to learn so you stay relevant in your profession. You can’t just wait for someone to tell you want you need to learn – you need to be abreast of the latest thinking and ideas in your profession, and also in complementary professions.

Don’t play safe. It’s important to be prepared to take yourself outside your comfort zone – to learn new ways of working, experiment with different concepts, and explore emerging ideas.

  1. Network, network, network 

Many jobs are unadvertised, so networking is crucial not just to land a new job, but also to help you identify what roles are available. Meeting new people will also help expand your mindset in terms of what’s possible, how things are changing, and what new opportunities are opening up.

  1. Manage expectations 

Expectations can be good, bad, or downright nasty. They can drive you to seek new challenges and try new things. But they can also ‘box you in’ and confine your career choices.

Being open to opportunities and willing to seek your own career path, rather than follow the expectations of others, is a key element to enable you to make progressive career decisions.

  1. Don’t ask – don’t get 

Stepping up requires you to be open about asking for what you need. Often people shy away from the tough conversations and hold back expressing their needs. If you’re interested in progressing and moving into different roles, make sure the relevant people know this. But this only works if you’re prepared to build relationships and, most importantly, do your current job well.

  1. Take time out

Taking care of yourself – both inside and out – is critical.  Making time for self-care activities, including getting enough sleep, regular exercise, meditation and other activities that are good for your health and wellbeing, are all critical ingredients for a sustained and healthy career.

About the author

Michelle Gibbings is a change leadership and career expert, and founder of Change Meridian. She works with global leaders and teams to help them accelerate progress. She is the author of Step Up: How to Build Your Influence at Work.  For more information, go to or email [email protected]