Career lessons from the worst year ever
For many, 2016 was the worst year ever. Whether or not that stands up to historical scrutiny (spoiler alert: it doesn’t hold a candle to 1342), it was undoubtedly a dramatic, often shocking (if not outright scary) year, with high-profile terrorist attacks, an ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria, an Olympic Games that threatened the spread of the Zika virus, political upheaval in the US and UK, and a number of sudden celebrity deaths.
The important thing is that 2016 is done, and while you may want to just forget it, we’d encourage you to take a good long look instead. No, we’re not being sadistic. There’s actually a lot we can learn from the year that was.
Here are some lessons from 2016 that can help you land a job in 2017.
Life is short – don’t wait for tomorrow
From Prince and Muhammad Ali to Alan Rickman and Carrie Fisher, 2016 often seemed like it had a sniper trained on some of pop culture’s most beloved celebrities. Yes, it’s depressing to think about, but the stars that left us in 2016 are a valuable reminder that life is truly short. If you’re unhappy with your job, or the way your career is going, NOW is the time to do something about it.
Because newsflash, if David Bowie can actually die, you will too.
We’re not losing our jobs to robots yet
In August of last year, Facebook fired its entire editorial staff, replacing them with an algorithm that promotes stories based on what users are talking about. The idea was that this algorithm would eliminate bias from their content curation. It didn’t exactly work out that way, and over the next few months, “news” stories like these started to spread on Facebook:
- The pope (and Denzel Washington) had endorsed Donald Trump
- An FBI agent suspected of leaking Hillary Clinton’s emails was found dead
- George Soros planned to fund black hate groups
- Germany approved child marriages under pressure to respect Shariah Law
- Bill Clinton and Fox News journalist Megan Kelly were having an affair
None of these are true, but that didn’t stop these articles from being shared thousands of times. This, of course, was the heart of the problem. Facebook’s algorithm prioritized “engagement,” which meant that outrageous articles got the most attention and exposure.
The lesson here? Automation is coming, and it will have an impact on the job market, but it’s still a work in progress. If you’re worried about what the future may bring, you have time to adapt and prepare. Start by seeking out additional training and education to make potential career changes and transitions easier down the road. A coding bootcamp, for example, can be a great way to learn more about something that will continue to be in great demand.
You don’t know what’s out there until you look
In May, NASA announced it had discovered 1,284 new planets in distant solar systems. Pretty cool, and only possible with the launch of the Kepler space telescope, which captures signals of distant planets (that is, decreases in brightness that occur when planets pass their stars).
“Before the Kepler space telescope launched, we did not know whether exoplanets were rare or common in the galaxy. Thanks to Kepler and the research community, we now know there could be more planets than stars,” said Paul Hertz, Astrophysics Division director at NASA Headquarters. “This knowledge informs the future missions that are needed to take us ever-closer to finding out whether we are alone in the universe.”
Launching a space telescope might not be part of your job search strategy, but this kind of bold exploration does have an important message: you don’t know what’s out there unless you look. Set up a job alert to get notifications of the latest openings, attend local industry conferences and career events, register for webinars and webcasts, and sign up for the Workopolis newsletter. To find your dream job, you sometimes need to boldly go where you haven’t been before.
You can compete with anyone
From the performances of Iceland and Wales in this year’s Euro Cup football tournament, to Leicester City’s miraculous Premier League win in England, it was definitely the year of the underdog in sports. And if all those stories prove anything, it’s that passion and determination can give you a chance against just about anyone.
That and having a viking war chant is awesome:
If you’re lacking in experience, focus your resume on skills and make sure to tailor applications to job postings. It’s also important to work on your interview game: go over common questions and practice answers (while looking in a mirror) to feel more prepared and to cut down on nerves.
And if you ever feel discouraged, remember, the Chicago Cubs won the world series in 2016. If that can happen, anything is possible.
Confidence goes a long way
We can’t mention 2016 without reminding you that Donald Trump is the President-Elect of the United States of America. There have been many reasons given to explain the Donald’s unexpected victory, including: Facebook’s aforementioned fake news dissemination; low voter turnout; Russian hacking; Jill Stein; a desire for change; and white male resentment. Rarely mentioned, however, is Trump’s incredible self-esteem and confidence. Even when it seems like the man has no idea what he’s talking about, he doesn’t miss a beat, bragging about past successes and boasting about his abilities. Clearly, this resonated with voters, and that kind of confidence can also have an impact on hiring managers.
In fact, when we asked Susan J. Burych at the Toronto Academy of Acting for interview tips, this is what she said: “When people audition, and when they go for interviews, they need to have an exterior like Donald Trump. Do you see how confident that man is? It’s abnormal, sure, but people kind of go, wow, this guy believes in himself. That’s the kind of thing that can really make you stand out.”
You don’t know if you don’t apply
If Trump’s victory wasn’t enough, 2016 also gave us Brexit, the UK’s unexpected decision to leave the Euro zone. Much like the Donald’s election, the No campaign’s victory surprised pollsters and oddmakers, and has led many to start rethinking the way polls are conducted (in the case of Brexit, graduates were over-represented, with polls undercounting hard-to-reach voters, and failing to add “attitudinal weights,” among other issues).
The lesson here? The odds may seem stacked against you when it comes to landing your dream job, but you really don’t know what can happen unless you apply. So get out there and give 2017 hell!