Managing Your Career in the Age of Acceleration

January 31, 2019

by Jane Finkle

In case you haven’t noticed, the world of work has changed. Securing a stable job, working for one company until retirement or steadily climbing the ladder is a thing of the past.  Tom Friedman, New York Times Columnist, refers to this state of transformation as the age of acceleration. We are in a relentless race to keep up with the fast pace of advances in technology and the impact of globalization.

Flux and More Flux

These trends are creating uncertainty in the workplace. Artificial intelligence and automation have displaced workers in many traditional jobs. While new jobs are being created, many employers are finding ways to streamline costs by hiring independent contractors or temporary workers as opposed to hiring permanent workers. This trend has set in motion the gig economy (hiring for a single project or task) adding to the unpredictability in the job market.

How to Succeed in Your Career

If you want to survive and thrive in this age of acceleration, you need to develop entrepreneurial skills. You don’t have to become an entrepreneur; you just have to think like one. Consider this new approach to your career as the “startup of you”, a term coined by Reid Hamilton, the founder of LinkedIn and Ben Casnocha, in which your success depends on being self-directed and creating your own career opportunities. As the investor of your personal startup, you will advance your career and competitive edge by building skills in problem solving, creative thinking, written and verbal communications, relationship building and collaboration. The continual flux and chaos from technological acceleration will also require qualities such as initiative, curiosity, flexibility, adaptability and resiliency.  In order to have a competitive edge in the current world of work, you need to take risks, commit yourself to lifelong learning and continue to build your professional network. Sound overwhelming?  It doesn’t have to be if you follow these five keys:


1. Tap into Your Talents

The best place to start towards establishing success in your career is to think of ways to capitalize on your natural talents and skills. Think of an area considered leading edge or identify a project or task that would enhance your knowledge and abilities. Figure out the criteria for the project or initiative and plan out how you will approach your supervisor or professional group.

2. Be Visible

Keep your manager and team or Board updated and informed on projects and accomplishments. Whenever you have the opportunity, highlight new concepts and innovation to senior leaders. Don’t be afraid to solicit support and advice from your boss or thought leaders as you work on projects. It is likely that your project will add value to the organization and securing guidance and support from a senior manager can result in their buy-in and ultimately winning their acknowledgement for a job well done. And don’t forget the power of social media to spread the word on your special achievements. Highlight special projects and accomplishments on your LinkedIn profile or Twitter away when something major happens in your career.

3. Commit to Learning

Seek projects or tasks that will enable you to identify new tools, methods and concepts and improve your overall knowledge. Find ways to keep up to date on current trends by attending professional conferences and meetings and reading professional journals. Taking a course, participating special training or pursuing a certificate program offer some excellent opportunities to expand your knowledge.

4. Commit to Networking

Networking doesn’t mean you have to always attend a big event. There are many opportunities to build on your current network and cultivate new professional contacts.

Serving on a community board or professional association offers you the chance to meet new people and also contribute your expertise and experience.  Alumni groups help graduates make connections with other graduates that can turn into a new opportunity.  You might also provide your expertise as business or professional advisor to a nonprofit organization or Startup. There could also be an opportunity in your organization to participate in an internal strategic planning group or a central committee. Social media offers a variety of ways to connect with other professionals; you can stay connected to people you meet at professional events and you can post articles that may trigger responses from other professionals.

5. Work towards Balance

All the changes in the world of work can easily cause you to feel anxious. It is important to take care of your mental and physical health as you continue to cope with the transitions in the workplace. Unplug from technology after work hours, pursue hobbies and interests, get physical exercise and spend quality time with family and friends.  Despite the pressures at work, don’t miss out on opportunities to build your interests and stay connected to those very important relationships.

Jane is the founder of Jane Finkle Career Visions, a career counseling and consulting firm. She has over 20 years of experience in helping individuals with career assessment, planning, job search strategies, and workplace adjustment. Her book, The Introvert’s Complete Career Guide, is now available everywhere books are sold.