Did you choose (or are you choosing) your major because you thought it would lead to a job that is "in demand"? Are you looking for a job or profession that will be stable, has lots of jobs available, where good people are hard to find, that will create steady income for you and support your future?
I'm here to tell you that going for "in demand" jobs of the future is not a good way to manage your career. Here's why.
This seems like a proactive strategy, thinking about what will be in demand or what is in demand and preparing accordingly so you can be in the right place at the right time. But actually, it's reactive. This strategy involves waiting for employers to tell you what they want, and then trying to become that. If you're hoping to find an area that
"In Demand" Changes with Supply
Something is only "in demand" if there aren't enough supplies to meet the demand, but as soon as there are, then the thing is no longer in demand. So if you and 100,000 other students in your geographic area all answer the call to become data scientists, suddenly there are going to be too many data scientists, just like there are too many journalists and lawyers. And you have no control over that.
It's Impossible to Stay Ahead of the Curve
Most businesses move fast. There are always new needs and new challenges, new skills that are needed, and old ones that are phased out. I used to meet regularly with hiring managers to learn about what they needed in potential hires and the needs changed faster than the course designers at the university could create new courses. Which means that almost as soon as you graduate from a professionally-focused course, the employers already need new and different types of workers. This game of catch up means you could study all kinds of things that are no longer really in demand as the future unfolds.
So what do you do instead? For this we need my good friend Mark Twain, who says, “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect.”
To create a truly future-proof future for yourself, you'll need to craft your own way forward, and your own work, career, or job. You'll need skills in critical and analytical thinking, agility, learning quickly and efficiently, opportunity identification, problem solving, cross-disciplinary understanding and communication, persuasion, empathy, design, creativity, and you'll use these to make your own work. You'll use those skills to build your own business, or become a maker, or partner with amazing other people who have complementary skills to solve problems and get paid for the privilege. But looking just at what jobs are in-demand is too small a perspective to sustain you over the long haul, and too dangerous a strategy to guarantee success.
Crafting Your Own Opportunity
To be in demand, you need to be scarce, and of value. So start by thinking about how your interests and skills combine to be a unique value-add to someone, a business, a community, or a problem. You can use the design thinking process for this by starting with empathy: looking around you for the way the world is experienced and understanding needs and challenges from a variety of perspectives. And you can invest in understanding yourself, by getting clear on your strengths and skills and interests and values. All of that will combine to chart yourself a path forward that will be in demand, even when we no longer need all those programmers.
Need help crafting what work you should be doing? Get in touch with me!