Concepts aren’t magic but they do focus the mind.
Consider, for example, the new economy: “new, high-growth industries that are on the cutting edge of technology” (Investopedia). In the 1990s, putting all the changes we were going through together in one phrase helped many people redirect job or career searches and stay in the game.
Here are three new concepts that might help us understand the job market today:
First, the attention economy:
In an internet-dependent culture, attention is a form of currency (money). Your attention is valuable and many people are competing for it. That’s a big change from yesteryear:
For most of human history, access to information was limited. Centuries ago many people could not read and education was a luxury. Today we have access to information on a massive scale. Facts, literature, and art are available (often for free) to anyone with an internet connection.
We are presented with a wealth of information, but we have the same amount of mental processing power as we have always had. The number of minutes has also stayed exactly the same in every day. Today attention, not information, is the limiting factor.Lexie Kane, “The Attention Economy” at Nielsen Norman Group
People’s attention mattered just as much in the past as today but there weren’t such easy ways of getting it. In the attention economy, specific strategies will probably help us stand out in the right ways when planning or safeguarding a career.
When we are seeking a job we are marketing ourselves, so here’s a tip on the importance of niche marketing:
Personalization: … Content has been getting increasingly niche over the past 5–10 years, and this will likely continue. There are marketing blogs, then there are blogs that focus on B2B marketing; Instagram marketing; marketing for artists, pool businesses, bed and breakfasts, and pretty much anything else. Plan on this trend to continue. There’s less and less appetite for generic content, but people will always want specific, personal advice tailored just for them.Janessa Lantz, “8 Strategies to Survive in the Attention Economy” at Medium (June 20, 2017)
It’s true. When seeking a new job or career, generalities don’t work as well as they used to. We need to focus on how we can meet specific needs. Just for example, in the health care industry for seniors, memory care has become a much bigger concern in recent years. So, a job applicant who can say “I have the relevant qualifications to work in a home that provides care for elderly persons” might not fare as well as one who can add to that, “I have taken three specialist courses in memory care for persons with age-related cognitive issues.”
That extra qualification gets attention. But, of course, it means that we need to spot trends and make time to update our education along the way.
A second trend is dark stores:
A dark store is “ a warehouse full of groceries where staff called ‘pickers’ select the goods that have been ordered by an online customer.” (The Guardian, January 7, 2014).
With longer aisles, no salad bar, and missing those checkout candy displays, the store will be used to pack up online orders, which have skyrocketed during the pandemic. Amazon, which owns Whole Foods, says its grocery sales tripled, year over year, for the second quarter of 2020.
But this is not just a pandemic-related reaction. Though six of its stores were temporarily converted to handle only online orders, this new dedicated online-only store had been in the works for more than a year, according to company officials. And it’s not alone. More retailers are accommodating the shift of shopping from in-store to online by turning their physical locations into so-called “dark stores”—miniature warehouse-like spaces where online orders can be packed for pickup or delivery. Retail experts say this is just the start of a major trend.Nate Berg, “The rise of ‘dark stores’—and how they could save struggling retail” at Fast Company (September 11, 2020)
If customers are not visiting the physical stores, internet-based media will become much more important in reaching them. A career in retail at any level should include awareness of the new ways in which customers are being reached and served.
The third term to know is Fourth Industrial Revolution:
The first three industrial revolutions are reckoned to be steam power, electricity, and computing. The fourth is really a function of the internet.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is a way of describing the blurring of boundaries between the physical, digital, and biological worlds. It’s a fusion of advances in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, genetic engineering, quantum computing, and other technologies.Devon McGinnis, “What Is the Fourth Industrial Revolution?” at SalesForce.blog (December 20, 2018)
The attention economy and dark stores are two aspects of the Fourth Industrial Revolution because they both depend on internet-based communication.
To adapt to this technology revolution, we must understand what is happening around us and determine where we fit in. What needs are we are best able to meet? The good news is that the current changes favor individuals with a good idea:
… today’s ‘machinery’ – the internet- and software-based tools that our knowledge economy businesses are built upon – has alleviated the absolute requirement for employees to work together in the same place at the same time. Venture capital has been a leading driver of this trend, turbo-charging the development of the communications, collaboration, and project management tools that have made productive remote-working a reality.
In fact, before Covid-19, the primary barrier to home working was usually organizational reticence or indecision. The pandemic has forced our working practices to catch up to the technology, provoking a decade’s worth of organizational change overnight as our corporate world has been turned upside down.Kjartan Rist, “Working from home : The new ‘industrial’ revolution” at Forbes (September 7, 2020)
Today, there are many new opportunities to make a difference and the challenge is to identify them in the tsunami of the internet.
You may also find worthwhile:
Robot-proofing your career, Peter Thiel’s way. Jay Richards and Larry L. Linenschmidt continue their discussion of what has changed—and what won’t change—when AI disrupts the workplace
Post-Covid: Five ways your job could change. This is a good time to be a creative thinker and innovator.
Five possibly unexpected ways the post-Covid office will change. We’ll all know more about remote working than we ever thought we would.