Tips to future proof your digital career

I was in great company the panel at the Tech & Digital Jobs of the Future event last night. The diverse panel had some great advice for the packed room at General Assembly Melbourne. I didn’t get much of a chance to take notes up there on the panel but I thought I’d share some of the points which stuck in my mind.

Networking is key

To be able to keep your career moving as things chance it pays to have a strong network. Get your self to meetups and events related to your field to learn about what people are doing in their companies. If there isn’t a meetup, start one. Stay connected with people on LinkedIn, Twitter or your chosen network and keep in touch. As panel moderator Brendan Kavenagh said, most jobs are not advertised, so knowing people and networking is important.

Have a portfolio, and keep it updated

Most digital jobs are going to expect, or at least be impressed by a portfolio of your work. It can be as simple as updating your LinkedIn with projects, starting a blog, or maintaining a website. As panelist Julia Birks pointed out, not having a job in a field yet is no excuse to not show what you can do. Volunteer at a not-for-profit, get involved in a Hackathon or Jam, find like-minded people a create a project together. It’s all about showing what you know in a practical context.

Remember team fit is important

Andrew Buntine made a great point which the panel agreed with, it’s much more about team fit than skills. That’s not to say you can get a digital job without any skill, but that a company will employ the right person and provide them support and training if they are the right person for their company. It’s a good idea to research the company you want to work at so you know what it’s like to work there. It’s also important to look for the right company for you, you’ll be much happier at a company that fits in with your values and life-style.

Nurture your communication and people skills

The panel all seemed to agree that people skills and communication skills are very important to career success. If this is something you don’t think you’re great at, or could improve on, James Law from Envato says write, write, write and I agree. Nothing better demonstrates your written skills than a blog and it’s a great way to practice. You might not share it publicly at first, but once you get confident it could be the start of your porfolio. Write about your ideas, projects, events you go to, observations. Anything can be an opportunity to write.

Continue to grow, and show it

Just because you have become qualified in a field, doesn’t mean that your growth and training should stop there. While good companies will have growth and training opportunities, they also want to know that you are making the effort to grow yourself. Companies like General Assembly offer a variety of free and paid training options. Keep learning through books and blogs, continue training, and have a side-project or hobby. It doesn’t necessarily need to be directly related to your chosen digital field, those sorts of activities will build transferable skills that employers value.

Final tip for event attendees

Full house at the #futureproofcareerpanel by @MelbourneGA on Twitter
Full house at the #futureproofcareerpanel by @MelbourneGA on Twitter

It was great that so many people were keen to talk to panelists after the event about digital jobs and the opportunities at their companies. If you spoke to someone or took a business card, make sure you follow up. Send them an email or a LinkedIn invite with a note to help them remember who you were. Even if a job doesn’t result immediately, you’ve made a connection, a good impression and increased your network.

If you met me at the event, or didn’t get a chance to and want to chat please get in touch.

Do you have any tips for others or questions for me, feel free to comment below.

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