The world of work is ever- changing. However, new graduates will experience a heightened level of change over the span of their careers, as technology becomes more integrated and new software, tools, and gadgets make their work more efficient and far reaching. Add to that the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit of today’s young people who will be launching many of the new businesses which will fuel our economic growth over the next several decades in areas that don’t yet exist, and it could be hard to predict what the workforce will look like in 20, or even 10, years.
All industries use technology, but that doesn’t mean all students or current workers have been trained or prepared for demands of the digital workforce. Older workers are finding they need to return to school to keep up with technology changing their industry, even with twenty-plus years on the job1. Graduating youth may be at an advantage now as they exit college with know-how to succeed in today’s job market, but must adopt the mindset of a lifelong learner to stay ahead of the curve.
Technology hasn’t only changed the way we organize, communicate, and entertain, it’s also opened the doors to a global market and started a conversation between workers around the world. We are moving toward a complete reliance on technology to communicate, which is infiltrating dialogues, local and international, and requiring professionals have stronger communication skills than ever before in order to converse with the diverse workforce. In his commencement speech, David Calhoun, CEO of The Nielson Co. also highlighted the need to “keep learning throughout life,” not solely because of technology, but because globalization causes the world to change so fast that we can safely bet that our skills will become outdated at a fast pace2.
Have you used Skype to talk with your parents while away at college? Have you used your filters on your Gmail account to separate your personal messages from your school messages? Have you learned how to close a professional email? Have you learned how to effectively write a negative message and close it in a positive way? All of these skills of diplomacy and negotiating will help you to launch your business ideas inside a small start up, a mid-size company, or within a department of a Fortune 500 company. Some colleges offer basic computer literacy classes that teach you how to use basic computer programs like word processors, spreadsheets, and some online organization tools, but much of the skills students are expected to bring to the world of work are self taught.
Consider the following reality of the new workforce:
- A Skype commissioned survey estimates that 62% of firms employ workers remotely3.
- Miscommunication can be a common problem because new hires lack of verbal and nonverbal skills.
- Immediacy may take away from the quality of computer mediated communication, as writers who feel rushed may not proof their emails, instant messages, or text messages for errors before sending4.
- Technology is everywhere, making a finer line for workers between personal time and work time.
- Currently, 57% of employers offer flexible working hours, due to the large amount of remote workers5.
- A lot of companies spread their employment across borders, which may pose language and cultural barriers between workers from different countries.
At LifeBound we work with bloggers from Colorado to Africa, and many places in between. We also work with interns remotely, do the bulk of our work on computers, and rely on Skype, email, letters, and phones for communication weekly. Strong written and oral communication speak volumes about your professionalism, whether communicating with someone in town or across the globe. As you enter the workforce, prepare yourself for avoiding any miscommunication by practicing writing professional emails, making a Skype account, and opening your knowledge to different cultures. All of these skills will help you to be invaluable as you make a real difference in the environments in which you work—whether you start out working for someone else or launching your own ideas to solve some of the world’s greatest problems.
1″Lack of Computer Skills Foils Many Job-Seekers,” by M. Alex Johnson. 29 July 2010. MSNBC. Accessed on 9 May 2012. http://www.msnbc.msn.
2″Graduation Day Advice: 5 Steps to a Great Career,” by Dan Kadlec. 9 MAy 2012. Time. Accessed on 9 May 2012. http://moneyland.time.com/2012/05/09/graduation-day-5-steps-to-a-great-career/
3“The Future of Work, by David Gurle. December 2010. Skype Blog. Accessed on 9 May 2012. http://blogs.skype.com/enterprise/2010/12/future_of_work.html
4 Brennan, L. & Johnson, V. (2004). Social, ethical, and policy implications of information technology. Hershy, PA: Information Science Publishing.
5“The Future of Workplaces – Virtual & Flexible Working to Grow,” by Aoife ODriscoll. 18 April 2011. Softworks. Accessed on 9 May 2012. http://blog.softworks-workforce.com/bid/62773/The-future-of-workplaces-virtual-flexible-working-to-grow