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Trevor E S Smith | Career Disaster Preparedness: How Shock Resistant Is Your Income?

Published:Sunday | April 15, 2018 | 12:00 AMTrevor E. S. Smith

No matter how qualified you are or how much experience you have, your career can be threatened by events outside of your control.

When entire industries and occupations are being toppled, your source of income might not be as secure as you think.

We can add call centre/help desk jobs to the 'at-risk' list of careers as companies race to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to respond to regular customer queries using automation instead of people.

- How prepared are you for such developments?

- How shock-resistant is your income stream?

- Have you given serious thought to the possibility of an unfortunate twist in your career that curtails your earnings and puts your assets at risk?

- What can you do?




The first step is to raise your level of awareness of rapidly changing developments that are transforming the way we do things. Ignorance makes us even more vulnerable. Reading may not be a favourite activity, but it is a critical necessity in these times. Keep abreast of developments!


Increasing Your Resilience


One solution to dealing with the threat of disaster is to increase your capacity to withstand them. Since you can't avoid them, the next best thing is to be able to cope more effectively. Bolstering your career defences is a logical next step.

The question is how do we develop shock-resistant careers?

There is no one-size-fits-all solution and the stage that you are in will influence your strategy. However, there are some universal competences that will increase your capacity to withstand and rebound from developments that threaten your current sources of income.


Communication Skills Upgrade


Being able to communicate effectively and engage others provides a huge buffer from career shocks. At a time when information channels abound, mastery of communication skills can open doors and keep them open.

Consider the role that speaking skills and mastery of social media and technology played in the election of Barack Obama. Ronald Reagan's gift of gab was a powerful asset and we remember Martin Luther King Jr largely because of his exceptional capacity to communicate the change he desired.

From kindergarten through pending retirement, the greatest level of career insurance and security will come from developing the capacity to communicate ideas in a compelling and engaging manner. Maybe that explains why coaching is one of the fastest-growing careers. Coaching also provides a fair bit of career insurance and retirement options.

If you can't write, tweet or speak, your career prospects might be bleak.




Frameworks provide the structure upon which we build. The study of anatomy and physiology reveals frameworks that explain the structure of the body and how the parts function. Those frameworks empower medical science and related fields.

The relevance of frameworks to your career is that they break complex things down into more easily identified and understood parts. By knowing that a ball-point pen stores its ink in a replaceable container inside the case, we can refill the pen and keep on writing.

The capacity to apply this concept of frameworks can provide a high level of career insurance.

From kindergarten upwards, there is immense value in honing the skill to break things down into component parts and being able to see how they fit together. Investigate what components are essential. See if there are components that are interchangeable or can fit into other structures.

Encouraging children to be curious about how things work and giving them the skills to break things down into component parts is at least as important as imparting mathematical principles.

Frameworks help us to understand things! Knowledge is power.

Frameworks are not limited to the physical realm. By identifying components that make up sustainable relationships, I developed and published an inter-personal framework 7 Keys To A Lasting Relationship (Amazon).

The weight-loss industry incorporates insights drawn from frameworks that identify the factors that lead to weight gain and how to reverse them.

Future-ready organisations now use competency frameworks to guide all their HR processes and talent management from translating their vision and mission into who they hire, how they incorporate them into the organisation, how they train and coach them, how they manage and evaluate their performance, how they plan their careers, how they plan for their succession and how they reward them.

Your take away is: Develop the skill to examine complex things and concepts and break them down in more easily understood parts. Applying and creating frameworks provide career insurance against disruptive shocks.




Does your organisation have a fully developed competency framework that provides clarity as to what each person does, how they do it and why they do it? Is it clear how all the pieces fit together? Request a no-cost consultation on the difference that a competency framework can make in your organisation.

Conflict Avoidance And Management Personal Development Public workshop series continues on Sunday, April 29, 6 p.m at the St Andrew Church of Christ, 77 Red Hills Road. Facilitators: AndrÈ Allen-Casey and Trevor Smith. No charge.

- Trevor E S Smith and the Success with People Academy team prepare and certify Leadership Professionals and Coach/Mentors and develop High Performing Teams. Hire Smart with their recruitment solutions. Now enrolling for the next cohort of the ICF/SHRM-Accredited Certified Behavioural Coach program. E-mail: