How to prepare for the career that doesn't exist yet

In a rapidly changing landscape, some jobs of the future don’t even exist today.

Students share experiences and experts share advice for a rapidly-evolving job market

Ryerson students Ann McArthur (left) and Laiba Abid have their own ideas for how to prepare for the ever-changing job market. (Ryerson University)

The job market is constantly evolving. Roles like app developer, SEO expert and chief listening officer didn't exist a decade ago. So knowing how to prepare for the future, today, can be tricky.

University student Ann McArthur recognizes this is a problem her and her classmates will face.

"It's always hard to prepare for a job that hasn't been created yet," she said.

For McArthur's classmate Laiba Abid, that preparation starts right out of the gate.

Both agree that a work placement is the best way to get job ready. They say no matter what field you're studying, the market is changing. But they feel anyone preparing for a highly technical role would feel that change more dramatically.

Both women are third-year marketing management students at Ryerson University in Toronto.

They realize their future roles may not exist yet, but they're doing everything they can to be ready for them. 

Building your brand

McArthur feels it's important to focus on her brand. She has a personal website where she posts every few weeks, documenting her career journey. The professional online presence makes her more accessible to employers and keeps her job focus top of mind.

"I think as jobs change, your personal brand is something that will stay consistent," said McArthur. "If you have a strong personal brand, then people are still going to reach out to you and you will still be very hirable."

Laiba Abid's presentation and persuasion skills got her noticed on campus and she believes these skills will translate well to the workplace. (Shutterstock)

Abid says students often focus only on the rapidly changing technology to stay job ready. But building your soft skills are essential too.

Recently she helped increase sales at a campus event with an innovative marketing idea. She says the presentation and persuasion skills she used to sell her idea will translate well into the workforce.

"It adds to your own profile," said Abid. "This is something that I have accomplished, which looks really valuable in the eyes of employers when you're doing interviews in the future."

Ability to pivot is key to success

According to one career specialist, students should see themselves as professionals in training and try to experience as much of the professional world as possible.

"Let's say I'm trying to create a product that is not in existence yet. There is always going to be somebody who is doing some measure of that," said Nikki Waheed, a career education specialist at Ryerson University. "So I encourage [students] to locate a professional or organization that has the same interest.

Nikki Waheed is a career education specialist at Ryerson University. She helps university students prepare for the workforce by finding out what they want to do and how they plan to get there. (Submitted by Nikki Waheed)

Waheed says even if there is not a space for that product or career path at the moment, students can start the conversation with the employer, create connections and start to create a space for themselves.

She says staying agile and having the ability to pivot in the job you're in is the key to success in a fast-changing workforce.

Marketing students McArthur and Abid say recognizing that the job market is dynamic is critical to staying relevant.

Otherwise, you will wake up one day and realize the job you trained for doesn't exist anymore.


Rubina Ahmed-Haq

Business columnist

Rubina is a business columnist who has been covering money matters for more than 10 years. Her career began 20 years ago as a news reporter. After a decade on the news beat she realized her passion was discussing personal finance issues. Now, she weighs in on money and workplace matters on CBC Radio, CBC TV and CBC News Network. Her goal is to get Canadians to take control of their personal finances on their own. Follow her on Twitter @RubinaAhmedHaq


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