By Artur Meyster, CTO of Career Karma (YC W19)
As technology continues to advance, the entire workforce is going to be disrupted. This change has already been seen today in certain fields that are becoming automated and the disruption will be more widespread in the future. Being an employee today can be daunting as you feel like these changes may make your own skills obsolete.
To that end, it’s important to look at whether or not the skills you have now are applicable to career paths in the future. It is, however, possible to acquire new tech skills today by pursuing an online degree, although it is extremely likely that the skills you already have can be carried over into a new career path.
Your skills are general, rather than specific
This may seem counterintuitive as many believe that specific skills are what allow you to excel in a career. Honestly, this is entirely true. When it comes to being able to transition to a new career path, however, generalized skills are your best chance for a successful switch. For perspective, having skills only applicable to traditional jobs means one would have to develop an entirely new skillset.
Although, if one possesses skills in areas such as analytics or marketing, these skills can be transitioned into a tech-based career. Look no further than data science which, according to reports, will have an estimated 11.5 million new job openings by 2026. Becoming a data scientist requires critical thinking and analytical skills, along with statistical abilities. The only new skills needed are knowledge of machine learning which can be picked up on the job or from other sources.
This is a career path that doesn’t reinvent the wheel and uses a large number of skills older jobs used as well. If you look at your capabilities and they are specific to one career and one career only, it is worth brushing up or acquiring new skills.
Tech jobs already use your skills
There is no better way of determining whether or not your skills are up-to-date than looking at current tech jobs. Dive into the career paths of tech and do research on some of the skills needed for day-to-day work. If there is a large overlap with the skills you currently possess, then you will probably be fine as the workforce changes.
For example, a career path such as cybersecurity requires extensive knowledge of coding, malware analysis, hacking, and other heavy tech skills. There is not likely to be a huge overlap in skills with current non-tech employees. However, there are career paths such as web design that use creative design skills above all else.
Artists or other creative professionals would thrive in such a role by using the skills they used in their old careers. There are a large number of technology career paths that people working in traditional jobs now could enter, but it requires research and ensuring your skills could be a match.
Recruiters still look for your skills
Recruiters are an invaluable resource to consider when wondering if your skills are up to date. Try to identify some of the top computer skills they look for today and see if there is any overlap with your capabilities.
The reason recruiters are such an important indicator of the relevance of your skills is simply that their job is to source new employees. They are the clearest indicator for what companies are looking for and seeing some of your current skills on their list is a great sign.
You may not hold the technical skills they look for, but rather the soft skills. Technical skills can be taught on the job, but certain soft skills such as teamwork and conflict resolution are developed through experience.
Not every skill you currently hold is going to be applicable to the future of work. In fact, most probably won’t. Fortunately, you only need one or two solid skills that can be carried into a new career path in order to succeed. The workforce is facing heavy disruption and there’s nothing that can be done to stop it. Adapting your skills to the future of work and ensuring you will fit the needed skills is the best way to survive the impending disruption.
Career Karma (YC W19), an online marketplace that matches career switchers with coding bootcamps. He is also the host of the Breaking Into Startups podcast, which features people with non-traditional backgrounds who broke into tech.