Let’s be honest – it’s really hard to find a job. There aren’t enough jobs to go around and somehow we don’t feel prepared for those that are out there. Why is it like this? What has changed and, most importantly, what can you, the job hunter, do about it?

Perhaps you’ve already done as much preparation as you can in the normal way to find a job and this hasn’t really helped you? The reasons for this are very complex, ranging from the personal, to huge societal issues linked to our education system and the slow rate of growth of the South African economy. But, as an individual, it isn’t really possible to solve these bigger issues to improve our own opportunities.

And these aren’t the only things affecting the world of work and life in general. There is another hugely significant shift that is happening globally which may help us to change the way we think about work and how we need to adapt to suit the 21st century.

Broadly this shift is called the 4th Industrial Revolution. This refers to the vast changes in the capabilities that link technology to humans. Not only do we now have computers and cellphones but we also have robots with AI (Artificial Intelligence – think ‘bots’); biotechnology that can change humans on a cellular level, corporations that can read your mind via your online presence and the list goes on! Quite scary!! This technological disruption is turning the world upside down and has changed the way that it operates (hence a revolution).

Think of your cellphone, for example. How would you cope with daily life without access to it? Cellphones have only been around for a couple of decades but they’ve become almost indispensable. Now we need them not only for phone calls and SMSs but to connect us to the internet, to our social media apps, to know what the weather will be like tomorrow, to apply for jobs and for many other things.

How does this ‘revolution’ affect your work-life? Well, experts agree that the idea of having one job for life is now in the past. We need to learn to adapt as quickly as possible, to continuously upgrade our skills as the pace of change is really fast. Some types of jobs are going to become redundant as AI (Artificial Intelligence in robots) will be able to do them quicker and more accurately than humans.

In this world of change these are some qualities that will be important:

As I’ve already mentioned, the pace of change is fast. Adapt your skills to new areas as they come up. Do online courses – many of them are free. Link up to sites that give you information about what the economy is looking for. Do they need more computer programmers? Do a course, find an internship – where you get trained ‘on the job’ – do whatever it takes. You may not get the salary you are looking for straight away but take these chances. They will help you survive the changes that are coming your way.

Change is always difficult! Being resilient means that you are willing to try new things and yet still retain emotional balance. You need to find a way to accept that change is the new normal and the old ways of thinking and doing things may not always be the best way for now.

Get to know yourself
You don’t want machines to know you better than you know yourself. This sounds impossible? Not at all! As you surf the internet, buy online products, walk around with your cellphone tracking system on, participate in online forums, the IA is building an algorithm about who you are and what your likes and dislikes are. An algorithm is a step by step method of solving a computer problem by collecting data. This means that data is collected about your life and it becomes easy for corporations, political groups and others to manipulate you into doing or believing things that you aren’t aware of. You’re going to need to think faster than Takealot or Wish to get on top of what they’re trying to manipulate you to buy. Those adverts you see on social media – they have been chosen specially for you!

Use technology to help yourself
Technology isn’t all bad. You need to use it help you adapt and become resilient. It’s hugely powerful as long as you are using it for your known purposes – for example, learning coding, doing an online course, finding out about what is happening in the world, communicating with others – rather than letting it use you.

How does this affect the work world?

Be creative
Don’t think about work in the way it’s been thought of in the past. As I’ve already mentioned, you may need to upskill yourself quite frequently. You may need to adapt form one field of work to another. You may need to be entrepreneurial and start something of your own.

Be willing to take opportunities as they arise
Everyone would love a stable, well paid job. These are like hen’s teeth (which means there are not many!). Be willing to take up opportunities that may not be exactly what you’d like and use these as opportunities to grow. Take up short term positions, volunteer, do whatever it takes to build experience.

Talk to people and not just to people you already know. Ask people about the work they do. Be curious about how they got to where they are. Join organisations in your field of interest. Be proactive in getting to know people in that field and communicate with them. Be seen as someone who is passionate about what you’re doing.

Create an online professional profile
There are some useful sites out there for professional connections. These are different from apps such as Facebook and Instagram which are used for social interactions. Sites such as LinkedIn are used to connect people in the work space. Write a brief profile and include any work experience you may already have. Build on this as your experience grows. It may not be helpful straight away but perhaps it will be in the future?

Be professional and work hard
These are the usual things that you still need to focus on. Have a great CV, brush up your interview skills; behave professionally even if you aren’t being paid. Always be your best self when you’re out there looking for opportunities.

Nobody knows what the world and therefore the economy is going to look like in 50 years’ time. Everyone in the working world will need to be open to change and be able think critically in order to flourish in this new space. When things aren’t going your way, think again and adapt. Learn another skill, try a different network, take up opportunities, be creative, work hard and know who you are and what motivates you. This will put you ahead of the game and help you survive this time of great change.


Tell us: are you prepared for the ‘fourth industrial revolution’?