With the advent of the internet we have seen rapidly fluctuating trends in multiple new fields of expertise. Inversely, though, we have also seen the internet gobble up professions like a bear eating berries after hibernation. One such profession, for example, is (was?) the travel agent. Online editions of historic and prolific periodicals and newspapers (New York Times) have surpassed and even replaced their printed counterparts. This made the people involved with the printing and distribution of the physical media obsolete. How can you navigate this fluid, and in some cases hostile, work environment and at the same time avoid getting into a profession that will be obsolete in the short future?
You chose to be a travel agent; you’re certified, trained and ready to send people to the most exotic of locations. Suddenly, Orbitz and Expedia start cutting into your bottom-line, to the point that you have to cut your losses and close shop. What do you do? After you wallow in self-pity and scotch, make a list of things that you’re able to do. If you still feel that those skills aren’t marketable and appropriate, maybe going back to school might be a viable option. Sure it might be weird seeing a forty year old ex-travel agent partying at a Frat, but, going back to college will be an invaluable asset for your future.
For the past decade we have heard the term baby-boomers saturate the media. This population group is large and aging, thus, an increase in demand for professions that assist the elderly is inevitable. I understand that following these demographic or sociological trends might be as pleasant as listening to someone run their nails down a chalkboard while chugging cod liver oil, but, it could help you get a pulse on future job markets. Keep in mind that the bigger and more heart-retching the problem, the more socially and personally rewarding the work.
Avoid Professional over-saturation
Quite often certain jobs are more in vogue than others. During the dot com boom of the late 90s early 00s, there was an influx of information technology professions such as programmers, web designers and online marketing specialists. After the bubble burst these professions still attracted people, but, unfortunately the market wasn’t large enough anymore to absorb them. Professions that demand an extended period of apprenticeship or multiple years of education will deter most people. Also, professions that intersect across multiple disciplines would be wise choices. If you’re not going into primate, marine-biology and financing you should be alright (I mean have you met a lot of aquatic capuchin monkeys with disposable income?).
Be a fashion victim
No, I’m not saying go out and buy the most recent fishnets, army boots and neon blazer ensemble out of Milan. What I mean, is stay on top of trending tools that can be used to your advantage. Twitter, Linkedin and the Millennials’ drug of choice: Facebook, are invaluable assets. They can help you promote, network and reach a much wider audience than through traditional advertising. Who knows what might be the next social media tool? A combination of youtube, facebook and twitter called Youtwitface.com? (Thanks Mr. Conan O’ Brien for the joke).
Before you choose your profession, ask yourself this: Can I be replaced by a computer, robot or cute dog with strong social skills and good work ethic? Well if you answered ‘yes’ to all of those, you should probably rethink pursuing a career in Frisbee fetching. Although, service based jobs have been secure in the previous decades, at the moment they are being sent abroad, thus, lower overhead. Bank Tellers, post-office workers and even cashiers have been replaced by their silicone based counterparts. Even pattern cutting in clothing factories is now being done by laser wielding robots. Read that last part again slowly: laser. wielding. robots.
Have you changed your career path due to changing circumstances? How did you avoid it and overcome being specialized in a profession that was obsolete? Let us know in the comment section below.