How to avoid becoming obsolete in the workplace

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FOMO aka the fear of missing out is being quickly replaced in the workplace by FOBO, the fear of becoming obsolete. 

While it can easily be dismissed as yet another TikTok trend, research has shown FOBO is a growing concern among workers. 

The release of ChatGPT last November amplified developments being made in computers’ ability to mimic human language. This challenged the stereotype of what computers can do in the workplace. Before, robots were generally considered as potential stand-ins for humans in warehouses and on assembly lines. 

ChatGPT signalled a watershed moment as workers realised they were witnessing the advent of computers being expanded to online programs conducting sophisticated language-based work, including writing computer code.

This has undoubtedly led to concern about the future of the workplace. And it’s not just mid or senior-level workers who are feeling nervous about what’s to come. 

Younger workers, who in the past, bounded into the workplace armed with the latest qualifications and were, arguably, seen by older colleagues as a threat to their job security and skillset. 

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Now, thanks to the explosion of generative AI and its ability to do the tasks often assigned to those at the start of their careers, younger workers are also worried about their relevance and entry path into desired careers.

Mind the gap

If you’re already feeling insecure in your current position or are worried about how your skills stack up against transformative technology, identify areas you need to focus on and those you can control. 

If you’re currently employed by a large organisation, avail of any learning and development courses at your disposal. If they’re not readily available, speak to HR or your manager about their willingness to facilitate upskilling, underlining how helpful it is to encourage employee retention. 

If these options are still not available, take matters into your own hands; there are a number of online resources including Coursera and Udemy that you can freely access e, in your own time, to further elevate your CV and future proof your career. 

Focus on soft skills

There’s one area where computers will never be able to compete and that’s around soft skills. If you really want to insulate yourself against an AI-fuelled future, develop your soft skills and start today. 

According to a recent Deloitte study, soft skill-intensive jobs will account for almost two-thirds of all jobs by 2030.

The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Future of Jobs Report 2023 reports analytical thinking to be the most important workplace skill of the future, followed by creative thinking and resilience, flexibility and agility. 

Many of the soft skills you use in the workplace rely on relationships, those with your manager and your colleagues. 

Build positive relationships by engaging in a genuine conversation about their weekend plans, family, hobbies and interests. Connect with them over shared experiences. If you work in a department with multiple people, consider asking everyone if they want to go out for a group lunch on your in-office days. 

This will give you a chance to connect on a more personal level and understand their work motivations more clearly.

Work with your direct line manager on ways you can improve your communication skills. This could mean honing your presentation skills or volunteering to lead team meetings. Improve your writing skills and ask for feedback. 

If you discover, however, that you’ve tried all of the above and have come to a career cul de sac (it happens to the best of us), it could be time to start considering your options. Despite fears of a downturn, the jobs market is still robust with plenty of opportunities awaiting those who aren’t willing to let the grass grow. 

Here is just a small sample…  

Technical Director of Frontend Development, Accenture, Berlin

As Technical Director of Frontend Development, you will be involved in exciting and innovative projects for top-tier companies in the automotive sector. As a member of Accenture Song, you are in charge of managing a talented team of developers and guiding and empowering them to produce outstanding digital products. Sound like a good fit? See if your background matches the requirements and apply today.  

System Test Engineer (w/m/d), Endress+Hauser Wetzer GmbH+Co.KG, Nesselwang

As a System Test Engineer, you’ll be responsible for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of a test infrastructure for the development and implementation of automated system tests. You’ll also create test scripts to perform automated system tests and oversee specification and execution of manual and semi-manual system tests. A technically oriented university degree (e.g. computer science or electrical engineering) or a comparable qualification with corresponding professional experience is a must. View additional details here

Engineering Manager (m/f/d), Thermondo GmbH, Berlin-Kreuzberg

Thermondo is hiring an Engineering Manager who will be responsible for hiring, managing, and developing a group of talented software engineers currently working with technologies such as microservices, Python, Kotlin, and Cloud Platform. You will be both a technical leader and a people manager so coaching and training your team members and building an amazing engineering organisation at Thermondo is an essential part of this role. Get more information here

Find your next role today via the Silicon Canals Job Board

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