A distant aunt of mine proudly said, “My son always walks around with 3 job offers in hand. His company goes out of its way to meet his needs. He is always in so much demand”.

I wondered, with my 20 years of experience in HR, if there was anyone (including the PM of our country) who was walking around with 3 if not more job offers at all time. That apart, I thought I must meet this person for the simple reason, if not anything else, of meeting someone so special!

I was glad to know that he was from the same industry as I, so we chatted about a few things trying to look for common ground. We veered around technology, business, industry and politics among others. I was a bit surprised initially about the superficial level of knowledge this person had about his own company and much less about his industry. He reeled out a few things on technology trying to tell me how that would change the world in 5 years claiming that to be the reason he is always in demand.

Being an HR person, I always make a mental assessment of any person I meet given their experience and that was what I was doing here as well. Needless to say, I was quite disappointed with the depth of understanding. I made a couple of enquiries with my friends in the industry to get a feel for what the technology was. They did tell me that it was currently in huge demand, not because it was hot but more because there aren’t many people working on that technology anymore. They also told me that in the next 3-4 years, nobody will use that technology anymore as it is being rapidly phased out. I kept pondering about that conversation. How can someone be so ignorant about his own area of work? Was he blinded by the success he had had so far or was it just incompetence? Will he ever realize soon about the impending change or will it be too late when he realizes?

We meet these “potential dinosaurs” often in our everyday life and who knows we may also be becoming one ourselves! A number of former colleagues call me asking what they should do to remain relevant for the rest of their working life. So how do we avoid getting into the trap that this gentleman was walking into?

Some of my own thoughts are given below:

– Benchmark your career growth with your peers and see if there are any trends

– Talk to people from diverse backgrounds and ask questions about their view of the industry, technology, domain, etc.

– Be on the lookout for trends that can replace your current work area. For example, remote trouble shooting called for re-skilling of on-site service engineers

– Attend seminars on new technology to keep yourself abreast of what is happening in the horizon

– Look at financial performance of companies in your domain to see if there are any trends

– Pick up skills in a different sector, technology or domain; do it regularly. This is what Stephen Covey calls, “Sharpening the Saw”.

It is impossible to predict the future accurately but being prepared always helps!! If you know it might rain, no harm in carrying an umbrella.