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Navigating Career Transitions in Tech in the Age of Automation

So how do we navigate all this? First, it's important to understand the relationship between automation and career change. Instead of focusing on the negative, we ought to assess the opportunities available so that we may not only stay afloat but thrive in the new environment.
Daniel Zacharias

Code Power Team

January 23, 2024

Are robots going to take over our jobs? The short answer is — yes, they will. Does that mean that humans will become redundant, unable to find work, and thus incapable of providing for themselves? Absolutely not.

The former doesn’t equal the latter, not by a long shot. Certain roles in tech may be disappearing but new ones are popping up practically every day.

So how do we navigate all this? First, it’s important to understand the relationship between automation and career change. Instead of focusing on the negative, we ought to assess the opportunities available so that we may not only stay afloat but thrive in the new environment.

How do we define automation?

The change we are experiencing is all-encompassing. Automation isn’t just one thing. It’s a wide range of technologies that aim to reduce or remove the need for human intervention in operational processes.

The steps to achieving this are predetermining decision criteria, establishing subprocess relationships, and deciding on actions. The solutions range from mechanical and hydraulic to electrical and digital — each bringing improvement in quality and precision.

The impact

Perhaps the most obvious example of automation can be found in production. Factory workers have long been replaced by machines and robots. The more advanced tech becomes, the more its impact expands into paperwork, digital processes, and even content creation.

Recently, the global pandemic has given it a good swift kick in the pants. The connection between automation and career change is more obvious than ever. So which positions are the most affected? They include:

  • receptionists and customer service jobs
  • bookkeeping and simple accounting
  • retail and warehouse jobs
  • system administration
  • IT management and software development
  • cyber security
  • banking and insurance

The ways to succeed

In our fast-paced world, automation and career change go hand in hand. Some positions become obsolete, others seem to mushroom out of nowhere. Job losses on one end mean talent shortages on the other. It’s all about finding the right spot.

So how do you make this global transformation work for you? Below, we have outlined a few effective strategies you can adopt to proactively manage career transitions in tech — and succeed.

1. Stick to continuous learning

A fast-paced environment won’t wait for you to figure things out. You need to act fast. Stay updated on the latest trends and keep an eye on the most advanced technologies. Depending on the area you’re focusing on, this could be new coding languages, web design frameworks, natural language processing platforms, or even autonomous vehicles.

Think strategically and look to upskill. You can achieve this through online courses, boot camps, or even going back to the university. However, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that only official education will get you there. Many of the high-demand AI-related roles don’t require a piece of paper proving you can do them.

An occasional failure or rejection shouldn’t discourage you. Embrace them as unique learning opportunities. Oh, and always ask for feedback.

2. Bank on your transferable skills

The good news is — you won’t need to learn everything from scratch. Many skills from one sector can work in another. Problem-solving fits across industries. The same goes for good communication skills or project management experience.

Regardless of whether you want to transition to digital marketing or AI-driven healthcare, you should always assess your tech readiness. Figure out what you know and which gaps need filling.

3. Calculate the distance

Don’t worry, this won’t include any math. Instead, it’s all about understanding how far you are from your end goal. Let’s say you want to move from copywriting to chatbot development and vertical AI.

Do your research and make a list of skills required for each role. See which ones overlap. Those bring you closer to your goal. The ones that differ represent the distance you need to cross to reach it.

In order to make your position even clearer, you may also want to identify how important an individual skill is to a particular occupation. The better you understand where you are, the better you will be able to navigate the world of automation and career change.

4. Connect with a mentor

Of course, any transformative journey is easier when you have someone to support you. Reaching out and networking can help you connect with professionals on a similar path. Building relationships will allow you to gain fresh insights and pick up a few tips and tricks along the way. You may even be lucky enough to find a mentor in your target industry.

Attending conferences in your target niche is, of course, ideal. However, this won’t always be possible due to distance or your budget. Online forums are a good alternative. Even the good old LinkedIn has plenty of interesting folks you can connect with.

5. Use gig work as a stepping stone

In an increasingly flexible and dynamic world, freelancing is often the most viable option. As a newcomer to any tech field you are still only partially familiar with, you can gain experience and exposure without commitment. It allows you to shift between projects, employers, and even industries with comparative ease.

For example, you can move from traditional graphic design to creating content for AI startups. It allows for a gradual transition, eventually giving you an opportunity to assume the desired role in UX/UI design.

When applying for any position, make sure you showcase relevant projects and achievements, highlighting how your previous hands-on experience can be a benefit in your new role.

6. Let AI help you

The relationship between automation and career change gets a bad rep. So why not turn things on their head and make them work for you? Instead of seeing AI as an enemy, you can leverage it in your job search.

AI-powered applicant tracking systems are all the rage and can become an ally in your transition. They recognize patterns and connect information with roles. All you need to do is tailor your resume to tick all the boxes. The better you understand the relevant skills and pertaining keywords, the higher your chances of being singled out as a desirable candidate.

7. Tailor it to your own needs

The truth is, there is no hard-and-fast rule when it comes to navigating career transitions. Each case is unique, depending on your starting point as well as the end goal. Of course, there are also other factors you must consider. For example, jobs with a predominantly female workforce are at risk of partial automation while men are more likely to face complete displacement.

Taking a bit of time to devise a tailor-made approach is perhaps the most beneficial thing you can do.

Embracing automation and career change opportunities

Structural changes caused by automation have generated a rapid rise in concern among the workforce. Many fear they will slip through the cracks and be left behind. This is why it’s important to see this challenging yet rewarding process not as a threat but as a new range of possibilities.

Some of the strategies used to empower professionals include continuous learning and improvement, leveraging transferable skills, networking, and seeking mentorship. Gig work can help you gain experience. Always stay flexible and devise a tailor-made approach to achieve new heights in the age of digital acceleration.

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