Young people are more optimistic than any other generation about their career prospects and the opportunities that lie ahead, despite the growing threat of job disruption.
That's according to a new study from professional services site LinkedIn, which found that the majority (52 percent) of people aged 18 to 29 are hopeful that the employment landscape will improve over the coming years.
The findings, which are based on a survey of over 11,000 people in nine countries across Asia Pacific, point to greater caution among older workers, who believe they will be adversely affected by the shifting jobs landscape. Just two-thirds (41 percent) of those aged 50 to 60 say they think their career prospects would improve this year. China was the only exception to that, with optimism at its greatest among older generations.
The findings reflect the wider uncertainties surrounding technology's impact on the workforce, said Roger Pua, LinkedIn's senior director of brand marketing and communications for Asia Pacific. However, he noted that employees of all ages can better prepare themselves by focusing on five key work skills.
As traditional careers find themselves up against the growing threat of automation, business leaders have become more vocal about the value of continuous learning — and LinkedIn is no different.
"Learning a new skill — or upskilling — is a great way to enhance the value you bring to an employer or your own business," said Pua, who cited learning as his number one recommendation for young people looking to take the next step in their careers.
In a bid to respond to what it sees as growing demand for such development programs, LinkedIn has launched its own platform, LinkedIn Learning, which offers users a range of courses from speech-writing to software training. Meanwhile, longtime business icons, such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, continue to espouse the value of good old-fashioned books.
While learning new skills is a vital aspect in your career development, ensuring they are recognized is almost as important, said Pua.
"It is unlikely that we can go far without help from others in our community," he noted. "Along the same vein, helping others by lending a hand or giving advice will create a virtuous cycle."
That's something respondents to LinkedIn's survey noted, with 85 percent saying they believe having the right connections is important for career progression.
Of course, networking does not come naturally to everyone, so it's important to learn some skills to ease the process. Sites like LinkedIn have also made it easier to engage with colleagues — for example, by liking or sharing a post — without the awkwardness of many traditional networking events.
Part of building a strong professional network is about positioning yourself as someone people want to follow. That means staying up-to-date with your industry as it evolves and making sure that's reflected in your online presence, said Pua.
Not only will that make you appear as a thought leader, but it will also make you more visible to colleagues and potential employers who may present you with new opportunities.
Start simply, by updating your online profile to reflect your most recent skills and experiences. You can then start actively posting and sharing on you LinkedIn profile, company network and personal blog to highlight the areas of your work and your industry that most interest you.
The jobs market continues to evolve, and it's important to welcome that change and move in tandem with it, said Pua.
"As the pace of disruption brought about by technology continues to accelerate, the willingness to embrace change is key to continued career success and staying relevant," he noted.
The majority of employees (81 percent) say they are open to those shifts, according to LinkedIn's survey. However, using it to your advantage can be another matter. Try taking an active interest in your industry and reading up on any developments to ensure you stay ahead of the curve.
Finally, while work is important, it's just as crucial to be able to strike the right balance to avoid becoming overwhelmed.
That's especially vital for today's workforce as developments in technology mean the lines between traditional working hours and leisure time have become increasingly blurred.
"As work-life balance becomes an increasingly important aspiration for many people, the key is to find the level of balance or harmony that works for each one of us."
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