How to Master Trend Management
By Tanya Kett.
“The winds and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators “
~ Edward Gibbon, English Historian ~
Ever feel like there is more information out there than can be consumed? We help clients navigate changes such as career transition due to employment loss, return to work after a prolonged absence, mandatory professional development, and strategies for achieving a promotion. The list could go on. We coach and counsel on how to effectively navigate all kinds of change, but how do we, as career professionals, stay on top of changes and emerging trends in our field?
Watch, read, listen and learn
Identifying trends in career-related services, industries, career options, technology, and educational programs can help us to prioritize what we should focus on. As careerpros, if we can prioritize what we need to learn about the future, we’ll be able to confidently position ourselves as knowledgeable, leading-edge practitioners with reputations for being on top of emerging trends.
This is easier said than done, though! It is difficult to know where to focus or to find the time.
My best advice for keeping on top of trends is to act like a sponge and soak up all of the information you can! Pay close attention to the news, conduct internet research, listen to public and news radio, read books by forward-thinking experts in the career development field, talk to experienced colleagues and members of your network, and talk to young people and students. While doing these things, try to identify emerging trends and then research these to learn more.
One area I admit I’d fallen behind on is how Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) work. I recently completed Career Professionals of Canada’s Technology Optimized Résumés course to upgrade my knowledge and skills in advising clients on how to optimize their résumés for ATS. As a result, I feel much more confident about the guidance I provide when I know the job seeker will be uploading a résumé to an online application.
Recent trends I’ve learned about
Technology is rapidly changing the way employers advertise job opportunities, as well as screen and hire employees. Interviews are taking place virtually via Skype and other platforms run through apps. Analogous to the hiring process, I’ve learned that some educational institutions are using cloud-based tools such as Kira Talent to manage their admissions process. It seems that as soon as I get on top of a trend, new ones emerge.
I recently discovered that some employers are using Snapchat for hiring purposes, especially with the express goal of recruiting millennials. How many career professionals are using Snapchat? I downloaded the app and used it once or twice, but soon gave up. I didn’t understand how to use it effectively and didn’t find it as valuable as other social media platforms. I prefer to use and learn as much as I can about platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. I’m certainly not ruling out adding new platforms to my toolkit in the future, but I need to plan out how to learn about them in a way that is not overwhelming.
But millennials and Generation Z are digital natives and use a wide variety of social media apps on a daily basis. Therefore, as job coaches and other career development professionals, even if we’re not experts on all apps and platforms, we at least need to learn how they’re being used for employment-related purposes.
How do I keep on top of trends?
I find that my primary way of staying on top of trends – of all kinds – is informally through my colleagues.
It also doesn’t hurt that I work at a university. The majority of the students are a mix of Gen Z and millennials and most are quite tech savvy. I learn a lot from them. Students are eager to share information that will help professionals make information more digestible for them. They want their information provided in formats that they like, such as digital media and graphics as opposed to text-heavy tip sheets, websites, and displays. As a result, they willingly take the time to do a one-on-one “show-and-tell” of the current apps, tools, and platforms they utilize.
Whenever I spot an upward trend in the use of applications or platforms that facilitate formal learning (for example, Cisco Webex or Avenue to Learn), I try to make space in my schedule to sign up and invest time in learning how to use these tools. Doing so benefits not only me as a professional, but my clients, too, because the result is that I’m able to provide information in a format that is readily accessible to them.
An important skill for any professional in the field of career development is to be aware of and prepared for trends and changes related to employment. When we hone this skill, we’re equipped to help our clients successfully navigate the job market and recruitment process.
We not only need to stay on top of our own skills, but skills that our clients will need for future career success.
What are your strategies for “trend management”? Please share your tips, experiences, and resources in the comments.