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A collection of short-lived jobs used to be considered career suicide, but as the work landscape evolves and technological innovation defines new roles, the need to climb the proverbial career ladder is becoming increasingly outdated. The thought of staying at one company from “hire to retire” is now almost unimaginable.

“Ten years ago, if you had a resume with experience at one place for eight to 10 years, you were seen as reliable and loyal,” says Jeanne Meister, co-founder of Future Workplace, an executive development firm dedicated to rethinking the workplace. “Today the hiring manager looking at a resume like that may think, ‘Why were they at the same company or same industry for so long?’”

In an economy where it’s difficult to predict the jobs offered five, 10 or 20 years from now, a weighty resume relies more on a person's variety of skills than tenure. “In the current marketplace, we put a price on elastic skills and insight into a variety of industries,” Meister says. “For example, HR professionals want people from financial services to have an understanding of consumer marketing.”

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The Institute for the Future (IFTF) evaluated big drivers of change across industries, including new media and global connectivity, to determine what core work skills will be necessary to compete in the workplace of 2020. Our latest infographic outlines recent stats on the prevalence and perception of job hopping, and highlights the IFTF's ten skills workers should focus on building:

  • Sense-Making: As machines take over routine manufacturing or service jobs, there's an increasing demand for higher-level thinking skills, or the ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed.
  • Novel and Adaptive Thinking: While middle-skill blue-collars jobs are decreasing due to increased automation, high-skill jobs requiring abstract tasks and low-skills jobs requiring manual tasks are increasing. Both ends of the spectrum require a proficiency in thinking and coming up with solutions and responses to unexpected situations. 
  • Social Intelligence: The range of social and emotional skills for machines is limited, and as workers increasingly need to collaborate with larger groups of people in different settings, the ability to connect to others and sense emotions is important.
  • Trans-Disciplinarity: The majority of today's global problems (e.g. global warming, overpopulation) cannot be solved by one specialized discipline, and require people to be educated in multiple areas. The ideal employee is “T-shaped" with deep understanding of at least one field, but the capacity to converse about a broad range of disciplines. 
  • New Media Literacy: Communication tools offering a more immersive experience for audiences, including videos, blogs and podcasts, are becoming the norm. These tools require people to strategically develop and leverage content using new media forms.
  • Computational Thinking: As the amount of data that we have at our disposal increases exponentially, job seekers will need to understand how to turn data into abstract concepts, as well as how to present data-based reasoning. 
  • Cognitive Load Management: With constant access and exposure to information in multiple formats, employees need the ability to filter and focus on what's important in order to truly take advantage of this flow of information. 
  • Cross-Cultural Competency: Workers need the ability to operate in difference cultural settings to compete in a globally connected world. 
  • Design Mindset: Recent studies show how profoundly our physical environment shapes our thinking. For example, high ceilings encourage open, expansive ideas. Workers need to be able to adjust and recommend certain environments depending on what kind of thinking needs to occur. 
  • Virtual Collaboration: Technology makes it easier to collaborate across physical divides, but managing and participating in virtual work requires the ability to drive productivity and engagement among separated team members.