What trends will dictate your career in 2014 and beyond? Recruitment advisor Irene Kotov (who has previously explained to us how to get headhunted and how to make your resume stand out for recruiters picks out 10 key trends, from tougher interview techniques to increasing demand for mobile IT experts.
Office picture from Shutterstock
It's tempting to begin writing this list with a "Millennials vs Technology" departure point. Such a list would inevitably conclude that your 2014 workplace will more filled with super-connected, self-serving, semi-unemployed, leadership-thirsty, Google-Glass-wearing narcissists. And perhaps you'll be one of them.
However, as amused as I am by analyses of contemporary millennial culture and as inspired as I am by modern technology, I don't think such an analysis would be accurate or useful to someone who is interested in exploring the future of work.
The reasons for that are two-fold. First, I think that most descriptions of Gen Y are too rough-around-the-edges to capture the real detail of what it means to be a working 20- or 30-something year old today.
Labels like "lazy" and "entitled" are easy to slap on, but I think they miss the real shift that's happening under the surface: young people of today are more self-aware.
From that self-awareness comes a desire to live their life on their own terms, upholding values of their choosing. A seemingly successful career, full of badges of status, might still not matter to a millennial, if s/he didn't live by his or her values to get there.
The second reason is that I think 2014 will be a year of smart, discretionary use of technology at work, not a simple case of "let's use it because it's there". Already we're seeing a backlash against always-plugged-in type of life. Companies are also beginning to question whether all this tech is, indeed, serving their real needs.
So, let's get on with it. Here's my take on what we can expect the world of work to look like in 2014.
1.Interviews Will Get More Real
Traditionally, an interview has been seen as an opportunity for a hiring manager to ask a candidate questions which elicit answers that demonstrate s/he can do the job and "play the game".
Recent findings that those current hiring practices don't work will encourage many employers to drop the unnecessary formalities.
I think that instead, we'll see more of "roll up your sleeves and show me how you'd solve my company's problems" types of interviews.
2. Old-School HR Managers Will Be Shocked
Conversely, many job-seekers will focus on discovering their "why" for coming to work.
They will refuse to suppress their authentic selves just to get a job. Instead, they'll embrace being true to themselves and communicating that to prospective employers in an attempt to demonstrate how they can express it through their job in a way which benefits the company.
3. Google Will Become A Key Part Of Your Resume
I was looking for an apartment last week and the real estate agent freely admitted that she Googled me as part of the process in approving my application. A few years ago that would have been creepy. Today it's the norm. If a real estate agent does that kind of groundwork, you can bet that a hiring manager will, too.
Right now 22 per cent of hiring managers say that they check social media profiles of candidates. In reality, I think that figure is well above 90 per cent.
Make sure your LinkedIn profile is polished and your personal blog is full of solutions to problems in your industry, or you'll miss out on opportunities. The Internet will be used in conjunction with your resume to make a hiring decision about you.
4. Writing For Top-Tier Blogs Will Become A Necessity
While we're on the subject of personal branding - writing as an expert in your field on big media/industry blogs will become critical for success. The number of opportunities will increase dramatically as branded content creator models are emulated and refined. An abundance of smaller media platforms, aimed at narrow niches, will spring up.
These will settle into a distinctly two-tier ecosystem, with one group providing thought leadership and the other producing content for the sake of being seen as content producers. Pick who you write for wisely.
5. You Will Start Your Own Business
Entrepreneurship will take hold as a valid vehicle to people's needs for personal power, self-expression and income (just as involvement in politics and having a stable job was seen as that vehicle by our parents).
For some people it will simply mean registering a website and beginning to toy with some plans about monetising it. For others it will mean quitting their current full-time employment and giving their entrepreneurial ambitions all they have.
You will most likely fall somewhere in the middle, treating your side-hustle as a project which you will aim to one day make your primary income stream.
6. Everyday People Using Tech To Solve Everyday, Simple Problems Will Win
There will be a huge demand for low-cost, mobile, leveraged software (or software/hardware) answers to simple everyday problems which harness the power of cloud, bid data and social media. Think booking taxis , taking payments using your phone and finding cheap accommodation.
7. You Might Dabble In Freelancing
More and more people will divorce the idea that a large pay cheque and a big promotion sits at the top of their hierarchy of needs. Many will take pay cuts, cut their working hours and reduce their expenses to create a life where they don't have to dread going to work, where they get to create something that they care about and do what they like.
This will help freelancing job boards like oDesk and Freelancer shed some of their image as places where rich Westerners temporarily hiring cheap overseas labour.
8. Social Media Hotshots Will Be In Demand
Most companies have by now recognised the need for social media presence. But often, as Rob Tarkoff points out, "they start a social media profile, begin posting and then wonder where the value is".
The biggest problem that companies face right now is that they don't yet know how to use their social media presence to drive traditional business goals.
People who can create an effective social media strategy and then implement it (and demonstrate to the CEO how it drives his business goals) will be the business rockstars of 2014.
9. Mobile IT Will Be In Demand
The World Wide Web we've built over the last 10 years will have to move to mobile in 2014 - or become obsolete. That means that a lot of apps, ads, websites, platforms and plugins will have to be "mobilised". There will be a sea of specialists required to do that well.
"Unemployment is probably close to zero for people with high-demand skill sets [in mobile IT technology]", says Michael Kirven, founder and CEO of Mondo, a leading technology resource provider.
Prepare for many job opportunities to come from Asian-headquartered companies, particularly China and India.
10. "We" Will Begin To Gain Traction, Next To "I"
Workplace commentators have been emphasising a renewed enthusiasm for collaboration in the workplace.
Crowdfunding and crowdsourcing, efforts which tap into a communal spirit to achieve a common goal, are also becoming the norm.
Then we have social networks which are, at their core, connected communities organised around a central idea.
I don't think that those are unrelated phenomena. Rather, I think they're a result of our collective human consciousness growing beyond basic "I" needs.
In other words, we're starting to think beyond ourselves (and with it, the limited zero-sum "I gain, someone else loses" mentality) and get engaged on a more social scale ("I gain, my community gains" social mentality).
We will see fresh new faces and companies who embrace the "we" mentality at their core to create amazing workplaces, necessary products and inspiring leaders.
Irene Kotov helps managers and executives land jobs in exciting companies. Through online presence creation, resume writing services, and LinkedIn profile writing, Irene helps her clients stand head and shoulders above their competition during the job search process. You can catch up with her on Google+.