BY TAYLOR TOMITA
Students graduating college in today’s world have to deal with big time change. These students are some of the first digital natives, growing up around technology that has been constantly changing. From flip phones in adolescence to iPhones in their teenage years, this age group has watched technology change the world around them, and, in turn, change how business is done. Such rapid change on this economic scale hasn’t been seen since the Industrial Revolution, and we owe it all to what experts are calling “disruption.”
What is Disruption?
Disruption occurs when a new way of doing things completely topples and replaces the old way of doing things. This generally coincides with the introduction of new technologies, leading many to associate “disruption” with “digital disruption,” and while commonly the same thing, they are not always. A great example of disruption in action is when Netflix came out with movies on-delivery and eventually streaming movies on-demand. Video movie rental chain Blockbuster didn’t want to accept the fact that the industry was facing massive disruption, and, like many others in their situation, died instead of adapted.
In effect, employees of today’s economy need to be just as prepared to handle disruption as businesses do. Increasing chances of hireability in a constantly shifting landscape shaped by change isn’t easy, but there are a couple of pointers you can follow.
Make Sure You Understand Technology
As stated above, most disruption occurs as a result of technological change. Understanding the technology that drives these changes means that you’ll be better prepared to adapt to them. In particular, internet browsers and connected chat devices would be great to look into. Skype, Slack, and other types of unified communications are driving a new wave of remote workers and participants in the gig economy. You don’t have to know these systems inside and out, but familiarizing yourself with chat systems and the like will better prepare you for the world of cyber-communications.
Embrace Brand “You”
To that same end, you’ll want to actively manage your online presence. There’s no escaping the fact that nowadays your digital “self” is your actual “self” and people will actually trust you less if you don’t have an online profile. This further supports the idea that business is becoming more and more digital and comfortable with work-from-home gigs–or at least part-time work. Entrepreneurs and employees would both do well to heed this advice, as any egregious online infraction can lose you your job. Read the story of Justine Sacco if you don’t believe me.
Get Ready to Upskill
One interesting disruptive piece of technology that promises to change the world is automation. While many pieces have been written on the subject, what can’t be ignored is that automated services will replace many of the rote, mundane tasks that humans are doing today. Staying viable in an economy of automated robots and software will require upskilling, or “improving the current skill sets of employees so that they can thrive in an environment where automation handles most low-skill duties,” according to Unit4 head of global product marketing, Tom Dobbe. What this means is that no matter how much training you may have received in college, be ready to train even more. Jobs of the future will require constant revision of training, and employees that can commit to that via upskilling.
Study the Rules and Regulations
As history marches forward, rules and regulations are usually created and added to rather than repealed. In today’s age, it’s up to employers and employees alike to know and understand the rules and regulations that govern their industry. Those in the medical industry need to know and understand HIPAA, while e-commerce and business IT types need to be familiar with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, or PCI DSS for short. While these are both clearly rules and regulations driven by technological change, new social consciousness movements are also driving disruption, with new standards all around the world for bullying and sexual harassment popping up in the early 2010’s. Beyond increasing hireability by knowing more about a specific industry, it’s always an individual’s responsibility to be aware of these conditions, even if they are constantly changing.
Always Be Adaptable
The most important thing to remember is to always be adaptable. Disruption is driven by change, and the better you can adapt to that change, the easier it will be for an employer to justify hiring you. In the past, being a Jack- or Jill-of-all-trades wasn’t necessarily seen as desirable. Today, however, it’s almost a necessary trait. Businesses are trying to be as adaptable as possible themselves, which is why hiring adaptable employees makes sense to them. Stay sharp, and know as much about your job as you can–because you never know how it’s going to change.