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AI & Our Careers

We keep hearing about AI taking over office jobs or the jobs of knowledge workers. Well, that begs the question who exactly is a knowledge worker? Aren't we all knowledgeable? What can knowledge workers do for their career in light of AI's growing capabilities?


First, let's define what we mean by knowledge workers. Back in 2016, knowledge workers were the largest growing work population across all jobs and hiring. According to this Wall Street Journal article there are 4 main groups of workers:

  • Those in non-routine cognitive jobs, often called "knowledge work," made up of various intellectual tasks such as professional, managerial or technical jobs. These non-routine roles required skills that involve problem solving and analysis, developed with a need for having a higher education. Think of: Public Relations pros, Communications, HR, Creatives, Writers, Journalists, Computer Programming, Software Developers, Data Scientists, Marketing Managers.

  • Those in jobs that consist primarily of routine manual work— think assembly lines or in warehouses, doing daily physical tasks. Think of auto manufacturing (long eliminated roles taken over by robotic technology), shipping yards moving containers from ships to trucks (also currently highly automated),

  • There are jobs consisting of routine office work—bookkeepers, filing clerks, bank tellers. Work that doesn't involve much physical activity but is highly routine and doesn't necessarily require high levels of knowledge.

  • And lastly, work that is non-routine manual tasks, such as many service based occupations, such as janitorial services (which---this just blew my mind).

Over that last 30 years or so, most of the job growth has come from two main groups: those that are non-routine and routine office-based work. And the routine jobs have been under pressure, laid off, and not rehired at previous rates, especially with the recent pandemic, a constant state of recession fears, rising interest rates and inflation.

So by now we know that jobs that are highly routine are the most susceptible to being replaced by automation and technology—AI run Excel spreadsheets replace bookkeepers and sophisticated robots replace people on the assembly line.


So what's the solution?

So we can talk all day about how AI is impacting jobs, but what can we do about? From a "whole forest" perspective, nothing. AI is here to stay and most major companies, for example accounting firm PWC, are investing heavily and aren't letting it go. Nor is China who's slated this year to surpass the United States in AI implementation in products and services.


From an individual perspective for YOUR career, here's some guidance:

  • Embrace AI - instead of perceiving AI as a total threat to your existence (I've watched all the Terminator films so...) use AI as a tool to enhance your work. Learn about AI technologies relevant to your field and explore how they can streamline processes or improve outcomes. Become the SME in your work group to help others. Add value. Share.

  • Upskill and reskill - Identify the skills that are in demand in the job market and align them with your existing expertise. Take advantage of online courses, certifications, and workshops to acquire new skills such as data analysis, programming, machine learning, or project management. This will broaden your career options and make you more adaptable to changing market needs. Embracing AI into your PM skills is critical right now.

  • Networking - Networking is THEE way to find new opportunities and gain new information. Simply looking on job boards for titles and responsibilities will overwhelm you and potentially cause some anxiousness if you go in cold with no definitive information or knowledge about what you're seeking. Attend industry events or join online communities to connect with people who work in your current or desired field. Or look for free webinars that explain AI in your line of work. I attended one just this week all about HR and the future of the field with AI capabilities. Seek, Talk, Ask and you shall find.

  • Focus on uniquely human skills - AI is proficient at routine and repetitive tasks, but it still struggles with complex human-centric skills. Develop and emphasize skills such as creativity, emotional intelligence, critical thinking, problem-solving, and strategic communication. These skills are harder to automate and will remain in demand. Diving into your DISC profile is helpful here too. The more self aware you are, the better you are able to use your strengths to your benefit in your role. Need a DISC profile assessment? Let me know!

  • Learn & adapt to emerging trends - Stay updated on emerging trends and technologies related to your field. For example, in journalism, journalists can pivot towards data journalism, investigative reporting, or multimedia storytelling. Similarly, HR professionals can focus on employee experience, talent management, or AI-driven HR analytics.

  • Seeking to pivot your career altogether? Make sure you are crystal clear on the skills you have and how they are transferable to another line of work. It's not as challenging as you may think! You may be surprised at how your current skills may really be applicable to a new line of work that is technology focused. STOP saying you're not "technical"! Not every tech role requires hardcore coding and engineering. In addition, focus your potential career pivot into the industries that continue to experience growth: healthcare, hospitality, and financial services. Remember: all of these industries need marketers, IT pros, HR guidance, financial expertise and the like.

We're not getting rid of AI. And it's not going to eliminate work as we know it. But there are steps we can take to better understand, learn, and pivot our skills to continue to have successful careers we love!




 

Ok, ok I'm a Writer!



I've finally owned up to my own truth: I like to write. As I was writing a response to an HR question I received, I remembered I'd written about the topic here on LinkedIn and went back to that article. It was from 2017 and it came to be because a previous manager I had challenged me to start a blog. I've been writing ever since.


And I know, most people's attention span is about the length of a 90 second Tik Tok video - and I do have a few of those if you're interested - but my honest passion is writing about what I know. Yes, I can jump on a stage and speak in a heartbeat, and I truly do love presenting, training, and facilitating. I guess my writing is just a strength from years of writing responses, policies, and communications to all types of employees as an HR professional versus planning out a script and recording a video. "But Ayanna you can just speak into the camera!" Ehhhh...not sure if that's my strength either. I can do it, it's just the want to do it part I can't get past! So like my new, dear career coach colleague Cassandra Babilya, I'm just going to embrace the face that I'm a writer. And what I have to write, somebody wants to read it! (And then contract with me to read it on air, interview or host a career related summit...*cough Forbes* *cough cough LinkedIn, New York Times, etc.* :-)


So, of course I have a blog on my website and it's chock full of career guidance and information! Check out the past few postings on these the following topics that may help you or someone your know get to a career you love!


Have you ever wondered why some colleagues advance in their careers faster than others? The difference can lie in an emphasis on how they demonstrate and articulate professional skills. Here's some tips!


Tips employees can use to their benefit if their employer is trying to manage them out of the company.


So you have a great new career opportunity! Do these things before you leave your current job!



 

Summer Biz Fun

This past weekend I had a great time representing my career and leadership coaching business AEJ Consulting at the 2nd Annual Community Bazaar!

I had a raffle to win 🏆 a resume review, so congratulations Michelle J. It was a perfectly sunny day and I met so many people at different points in their career:



➡️ Retirees looking to do the work they love

➡️ Soon to be retirees who are 5 years out and want to transition the type of work they do now

➡️ People seeking new opportunities altogether


I had smart and intriguing conversations about remote work, healthcare hiring practices, and why leadership coaching shouldn’t only be offered to executives. So great to enjoy the outdoors and talk about the current state of the workplace. And yes Purple is my favorite color! 💜






If you’d like to talk with me about careers and leadership training, I’m only an email or click away!

Follow my business page on LinkedIn AEJ Consulting

Or contact me via email at info@ayannaejackson.com





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