The Future of Jobs

Like it or not, the odds are that you will be self-employed in the very near future. Professor Charles Handy saw this coming in his book “The Age of Unreason” published in 1990, when he predicted that early into the new millennium there would be more contingent workers than those working for organizations. A survey last year, by Kelly Services, found that 44% of workers consider themselves to be free agents. This doesn’t even count the 19 million sole proprietors who run their own small businesses (who were not included in this survey).

 everal decades ago began to outsource functions like logistics, fulfillment, distribution, and shipping to firms like UPS. Legal, accounting, and advertising have long been outsourced. Now organizations are realizing big savings from farming out graphic arts to local freelancers; Web design to specialists; marketing and sales to third parties; IT to local IT gurus; the Cloud for data and content storage; and outsource network administrators, amongst others. And this trend will continue. Companies simply do not need the burden of 365-day a year payrolls, new government regulations, training, managing, and providing benefits for these services – when outside experts in each field can do a more cost-effective job.

The majority of recruiters I talk to have consensus that most university career centers do a woefully inadequate job of preparing students for the “new” real-world challenges of finding jobs. Important skills like networking are not meaningfully conveyed to students: they should be well on the way of developing life-long networks of fellow classmates, professors, sports team participants, family and parents’ professional contacts, etc. before graduation. Social media needs to be understood and mastered for its power to broaden research, connections, and the ability to find and apply for jobs. Resumes need to be focused to perfectly match the job requirements posted by employers and rich in keywords to pass through screening software and make it to human eyes. Traditionally, you graduated from college with some relevant course work and went to work for a company, which trained you for the specific job they needed to fill. While forward-thinking organizations give recurrent training, many now believe they can find the right person to jump in and be productive day one, versus expensive training programs that may or may not get new recruits up to speed.

This is all pertaining to full-time employment with a company – not addressing the trend to bring in contract workers or outsource. Add to this the complexity of starting your own business, as a contingent or freelance worker. You will have to first have some in-demand skill hopefully mastered in college or entry-level positions, brand yourself, research organizations who need those skills, market yourself, negotiate a favorable contract, and close the sale. Then you must account for your time, make quarterly tax payments, provide your own healthcare and start your own retirement plan. Not only do you have to run your new business, you must actively network and do research to find your next gig, and market yourself to the new organization, without missing a beat on your current assignment. Failure to do this will cause a gap in income, something else you need to plan for.


Adapting to the future of jobs and the revolution taking place in our economy and business world will require our educational system to better prepare the next generation of workers not to follow directions, but for experimentation and innovation. It will require individual risk-taking, excellent communication and networking skills, vision and entrepreneurial spirit. It will be critically important to find mentors willing to help guide you along the path. These can be professors, coaches, family friends, contacts you have developed in your chosen profession, recruiters you bond with, or managers in your entry-level jobs. Education must be an ongoing process to keep you up-to-date with, and mastery of, the latest technology and marketable skills. Going forward, you will have to create your own job security – fewer and fewer companies will provide it.

Richard S. Pearson is the Author of 5 Necessary Skills to Keep Your Career on Track 2nd Edition, featuring social media and networking to find and keep jobs, now available on Amazon. He has held vice-president positions with four multibillion dollar travel industry companies and three Internet early stage companies. He has a BA degree from Regis University in Organizational Development. His experience has given him a unique perspective on how to navigate the organizational structures of both large and small companies. He has hired and trained hundreds of employees from frontline salespeople to vice presidents, and coached many through their careers. He is currently working on facilitating the large increase of travel between the US and China, which is taking place.

By Richard S Pearson