The Skills Gap: Your Future Job Doesn’t Exist Today

By Kristen Harris

Here’s a newsflash from the future…the job that’s waiting for you doesn’t exist right now. That’s right. Your future job probably hasn’t yet been created, or maybe even thought about. Just ten years from now there will be jobs that are very different from anything we see today.

 While doing research on the current talent “skills gap,” I came across an interesting piece of information. [Contributing to the skills gap] ”…more employers are reporting that their companies have created new job functions that didn’t exist at their organizations five years ago”.1 For example, sixteen percent of those employers have positions tied to social media. Facebook was created in 2004. Social media barely existed ten years ago, but now companies desperately need people with this expertise.

 A related LinkedIn survey called out “10 hot job titles that barely existed 5 years ago.” On the list are several roles that combine creativity and technology, including IOS and Android Developers, Social Media Intern, UI/UX Designer, and Digital Marketing Specialist.2 None of these existed ten years ago, which means the jobs we’ll have ten years from now probably don’t exist either. Creativity and technology are becoming more intertwined; there is a strong need for talent who are experienced in this digital creative world.

 It’s an interesting conundrum…we have to plan for and train people to do jobs that don’t exist. We’re preparing for jobs related to things that haven’t been invented yet. A little daunting, right? Maybe even overwhelming. And, while we may expect rapid change for people early in their career, it can affect people further into their career in a more profound way. Starting out in your career everything is new; but as you progress and build experience, it’s easy to get used to doing things a certain way. This is very dangerous because change can happen subtly. You may not notice an evolution (or revolution) in your industry until it’s already taken place.

 How can you possibly plan or prepare for something that you can’t even name yet? Here are a few tips:

  • Never stop learning. Learn how to learn, and make it your habit to always keep learning. Try new software, new platforms and new tools. Check out different industries, research a company you’ve never heard of and find out what they’re working on. Read, take classes, follow blogs, watch videos…it’s less important how you learn than that you continue to learn. No one can tell you what you’re going to need to know in the future, but if it’s new you’ll have to learn it.

  • Stay ahead of technology. Keep up-to-date on technology related to your industry. But also pay attention to how and where technology is evolving in general. Back to the social media platforms…marketing experts who paid attention to social media eight years ago are far ahead of those who didn’t. Follow new technology and consider how or where it may influence, affect or become a part of your industry.

  • Broaden your experience. Make a point of gaining varied experiences, whether it’s through your regular job or projects you do on your own. Consider positions in new industries, or roles that are a little different than your current one. Volunteer for an unusual or unknown project, be willing to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. Seek out your own projects that expand your horizons. The broader your experience, the more expertise you’ll have to apply to whatever might be coming your way.

While we can’t predict the future, by staying current, continuously learning, and staying abreast of trends you’ll be ready for whatever it may bring.


 1 M. Ferguson, L. Hitt, P. Tambe; The Talent Equation, Big Data Lessions for Navigating the Skills Gap and Building a Competitive Workforce, 2014, pub. McGraw-Hill Education.

 2 10 Hot Job Titles that Barely Existed 5 Years Ago, LinkedIn post.