How to future-proof your creative career
We can get swept up in the “now” of our careers without ever considering where we’re heading or whether there’ll be space for us when we get there.
Think about the careers and skills that didn’t exist a decade ago — and with this in mind, it’s a smart idea to start thinking about your job security in 5,10, and 15 years. Starting now.
What’s in store for creative jobs of the future?
Being a professional creative is an exciting concoction of so many layers, prongs, and systems that, when fused together, create something amazing — but there are some cons to this career path. The advancements in technology have made the market even more competitive than it already is, with around 45% of jobs currently in the market set to become automated in the future.
The “robots taking over our jobs” fear is becoming all too real for many of us.
In a world where we could be let go and replaced with machines, it’s about time you took a long look at where your career is going — and staying ahead of the electronics coming for your paycheck.
Luckily, robots haven’t yet mastered the art of creativity, as we have the capability to have original ideas. This doesn’t mean that you should rest on your laurels, though; honing your craft and pushing yourself to be at your most creative will take you further every time.
In case robots aren’t enough, the level of rivalry amongst fellow creatives in the industries has increased too, with freelancers in the UK alone moving over the 4.5 million mark in 2017. This has created a cutthroat environment where no one is seemingly safe; it’s a sink-or-swim world where you have to stay ahead of the game at all times.
(Want to learn more about the future of freelancing? Read this.)
With the problems we face laid out, let’s look to the future and see how we as creatives can tailor personal learning and career development to safeguard our coveted profession for years to come.
Learning to go with the flow and develop interchangeable skills will be indispensable in a creative career.
By 2030, there are set to be 900,000 new creative jobs in the UK. That’s a lot of opportunity, and a lot of scope for nuanced tasks, potentially resulting in entirely new roles. Make your skillset an amalgamation of cross-sectional abilities, and be ready to adapt when the time comes.
Dabble in other areas — not just to learn, but because it will help you understand why you do what you do. Identifying what affects fields that run parallel to yours will broaden your perception of what you do, and help you max out your potential.
Build a network
Get friendly — and not just with those in your field.
While knowing your colleagues never hurts, networking across many fields will give you the confidence to fall back on when you need direction — especially if your network is cross-creative, giving you inspiration from designers, copywriters, UXers, and what-have-yous with brilliance to share.
It’s easier than it sounds. Think about:
- Checking out Meetup to find–and attend!–business get-togethers and informal networking events;
- Reconnecting with old colleagues and school pals to see how they’re navigating their way through their careers;
- Join Facebook groups and Twitter discussions, and leave your online profile link wherever you stop by.
The internet is your oyster, and you never know who’s keeping an eye on your virtual self.
(Side projects are a big part of how good designers become great designers. Why? Read here.)
Your creative role, while satisfying your soul, also is what pays the bills — which can be stressful.
When it’s time to clock out — or make your way from desk to sofa if you’re freelancing — there’s never any harm in keeping your passions alive with a side project outside of your day-to-day tasks.
These “passion projects” keep your curiosity piqued and show potential clients or co-workers in the future that your love for your field goes deep — and your commitment is long-term.
Grill yourself. Hard.
None of us can predict the future, and I’m not suggesting you try. What I can suggest, though, is that you sit down and give yourself a hard look in the mirror, and answer these tough questions.
- How secure is my role?
- What’s my next step?
- Is my skillset in high demand? Am I in line to be replaced in the robot takeover?
- What else can I offer?
This process isn’t fun for anyone, but it has to be done. The answers to these questions aren’t going anywhere, after all; this is your opportunity to deal with them.
You should also question your current industry, especially in comparison to growing industries.
Real talk: are you in a dying business? How can you get into a market that’s growing?
(How do you know if your job is right for you? Check this out.)
Invest in yourself with lifelong learning
Without a doubt, the single most important thing you can do and something that encompasses all of the above is learn.
In business, you’re only as valuable as your skills. The more skills you have, the more valuable you’ll become. Continuous learning is the best investment you can make in yourself.
(Disclaimer: We’re Jolt!) Enter Jolt, a lifelong learning community where you learn in intimate groups from world-class industry experts.
The pace of change in technology and business models is so rapid that absorbing knowledge should be — frankly, needs to be — at the forefront of your future-proofing trajectory. Learning on your own is all very well and good, but it’s not as effective as it could be. Sharing the experience of learning with peers puts you in direct contact with potential future colleagues while collaborating during an educational experience that you just can’t get from behind a screen.
These tips will not only future-proof your creative career, but will also jumpstart it right now. When you live and work intentionally, there’s no stopping your potential.