Work­ing it out Four ways to se­cure your job fu­ture

Want to fu­ture proof your job? Ca­reer coach John Fitzger­ald has four aces up his sleeves, writes

Irish Examiner - Magazine - - Contents - Es­ther McCarthy

From short-term con­tracts to the au­to­ma­tion of cer­tain roles to con­tin­u­ally chang­ing tech­nol­ogy, the way we work has changed ut­terly.

While our par­ents’ gen­er­a­tion went to col­lege, got a job and in many cases stayed with the same com­pany un­til re­tire­ment, the chaotic, ever-evolv­ing na­ture of con­tem­po­rary busi­ness presents ma­jor chal­lenges and de­mands that we be dy­namic in our ca­reer ap­proach.

Yet en­joy­ing a pos­i­tive work­ing en­vi­ron­ment, and feel­ing con­tent and ful­filled in what you do, is vi­tal not only for our cash-flow, but for our wel­fare and self-es­teem, too. And fu­ture-proof­ing your­self against the con­stantly chang­ing land­scape could be the key to ca­reer suc­cess, ac­cord­ing to top ca­reer con­sul­tant John Fitzger­ald of Har­mon­ics.

He’s iden­ti­fied four “aces” that could trans­form how we ap­proach our work­ing lives — and what we can do to make our work­ing hours more re­ward­ing.

Aware­ness Of Our­selves

We’re so busy in day-to-day jobs, says John, that we never take stock of what our skills and values are, or how

best to utilise them. In the past, we’d only need to re­flect on these for a job in­ter­view, but that has changed.

“It’s ab­so­lutely im­por­tant to plan ahead and it’s not some­thing that peo­ple do be­cause the ma­jor­ity of peo­ple at work are very busy do­ing more with less, and busy­ness is the new drug in the world of work,” he ex­plains.

“We get our dopamine hit from work­ing hard, tick­ing off our to-do list. That gives us a sense of achieve­ment, a sense of re-added value, but by be­ing so busy, it doesn’t give us the space to step back, to re­think, to re­learn, to re­fresh for the fu­ture. That is some­thing that we’re not good at as adults in the work­place.” He rec­om­mends tak­ing steps to be­come more aware of what you have to of­fer. “A lot of peo­ple do their job with­out think­ing of the skills that they use. It’s re­ally about un­der­stand­ing the skills that you bring. If I were to ask you for your top 10 skills, would ev­ery­body know that? When have you been at your best, and when are you in flow?

“Are you aware of your strengths, your values, what’s im­por­tant to you? They’re the key in­di­ca­tors which will guide you as a com­pass for your fu­ture. If we know our­selves bet­ter, we can start mak­ing proac­tive de­ci­sions about where we want to go.”

Aware­ness Of Our En­vi­ron­ment

The work­ing world has changed so much that it’s vi­tal to know where de­vel­op­ments are tak­ing place — both within and be­yond our own in­dus­tries, says John.

“Ca­reer pro­gres­sion was so pre­dictable in the past. You worked for your or­gan­i­sa­tion and it stayed around for a long time. Now we’re see­ing with For­tune 500 com­pa­nies that some­thing like 15 years is their life ex­pectancy. The half life of a skill now is five years. If we learned a skill 10 years ago, it’s more than likely ob­so­lete now.” He sug­gests tak­ing at least 30 min­utes “metime” each day to fo­cus on our ca­reers, as­pi­ra­tions and skills values. “You can take in­ven­to­ries on­line to ex­am­ine your skills, there are many re­sources there, you can learn more about your­self and what mo­ti­vates you.” He says that think­ing be­yond your pro­fes­sion can open up a world of pos­si­bil­i­ties. “Have con­ver­sa­tions with peo­ple out­side of your in­dus­try. I think peo­ple get caught up in a spi­ral of where they work and what they do. We need to re­main cu­ri­ous about the world of work and not just the en­vi­ron­ment that we work in.

“I think the more cu­ri­ous we are about ask­ing ques­tions, we can start to gather themes about what’s hap­pen­ing across all in­dus­try sec­tors. It’s not rocket sci­ence — it’s lit­er­ally the ‘heads down’ ver­sus ‘heads up’ ap­proach.”


It’s hu­man na­ture to have in­grained habits, espe­cially in our work­ing lives, but a will­ing­ness to be adapt­able can be a great asset in the mod­ern­day work­place. John cites Charles Duhigg’s book The Power of Habit in ex­plain­ing that for a habit to change, we must be­lieve change is pos­si­ble.

“They say only a child with a wet nappy wel­comes change!” laughs John. But we need to be­come more adapt­able. We all have habits and they’re habits that we’re wed­ded to.

We need to see the op­por­tu­nity in change rather than see your­self as a vic­tim of change.

“It’s about be­lief, but also be­ing aware of lim­it­ing be­lief. What will hold me back? It’s al­ways a chal­lenge to recog­nise what are the lim­it­ing be­liefs that are hold­ing you back.”


The abil­ity to an­tic­i­pate the fu­ture and its con­se­quences is one of the great skills of suc­cess­ful peo­ple at work, says John. Be­ing proac­tive about po­ten­tial changes en­ables you to be im­pacted by it in a less neg­a­tive way.

It’s a key skill in fu­ture-proof­ing, as you’re aware of your en­vi­ron­ment and plan­ning well ahead of time.

To hone this skill, he sug­gests think­ing like a com­pet­i­tive sportsper­son, for who an­tic­i­pat­ing fu­ture moves is sec­ond na­ture. “They have a coach, they have a men­tor. They train their minds. They learn to block out ev­ery­thing else. That’s what great sports­peo­ple do, they’re in the right po­si­tion for the ball at the right time.

“It’s about tak­ing more risks with our­selves, and maybe fail­ing some­times. But go­ing out there and com­mit­ting your­self to the next move. Some­times you won’t get it right, but the more you prac­tice that, the bet­ter the re­sults are go­ing to be.”

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