Do you still matter on the labour market? An uncomfortable reading

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

“My current work is not developing my skills. I am not learning new things / new tools at work. The technology I use in this project is not the latest one. “

These are phrases I keep hearing during people management discussions. You exercise skills that get outdated and without taking action, you are losing competitive advantage (which in plain English translates to “the other guy / girl got the job”). Yes, the direct impact is that you are losing relevancy in the labour market.

So, whose fault is it? Are you asking yourself this question? You do? Then you have the wrong attitude from the very beginning. That is because you are facing a real issue and you’re looking for people to point fingers at and throw away the blame. You should only ask yourself how to solve it. Own the problem and the solution.

Own the problem

Let’s look at it from both angles. You, first. Most likely you attended some form of interview that landed you the job. You got it based on your previous experience and / or practical skills shown and you were aware that you will be doing that job for at least the next two years. The job description didn’t sound like you will be building satellites, but you took it nonetheless because of some incentives – not just salary, maybe it was the location close to your kid’s kindergarten or the flexible working hours allowing you to take the kids to school. You made a compromise – which in project management courses we learn that it’s the worst thing you could do: a lose-lose solution.

Now the big bad wolf view. To understand the company, you have to understand their business model. How relevant is for your company to be able to sell your services at any given moment? Is this what earns the company money? The cruel reality: how easily can you be discarded if you can’t cope with the (future) technical requirements of your role?

Own the solution

Take ownership. Leave aside the enchanting corporate speech you may hear sometimes. The company is not an educational institution meant to prepare you according to latest trends or personal aspirations. It’s hypocrisy to pretend otherwise. The employer will always train you only according to its business needs and it perfectly makes sense. It’s not the employer’s objective to keep you relevant in the labour market and attractive for recruiters. Maybe the bank you work for needs you to be knowledgeable in Cobol, to maintain their legacy systems – how will that work for your future? Maybe you’re working as a tester in an old framework using an old and expensive tool – how will that help you?

The solution is to invest in yourself, in your training and your network. Attend meetups, buy a hands-on course to build practical skills (personally I’m a big fan of Udemy), get certified. Don’t find excuses.

It’s your career. Own it.