How to pivot in today's volatile job market
To survive and thrive in the future job market, career experts suggest you need “agility”. We look at how this special kind of flexibility can help you shine.

If someone told you that you’ll have 18 jobs over six careers in your lifetime, you’d probably feel a bit “shook”. That seems like a serious amount of effort, right there, with no time to chill and enjoy all your hard work. Let’s face it, getting a new career about every eight years requires some serious upskilling. Or does it? 

While jobs-for-life are about as extinct as rare ocean species, having jobs or gigs you love for life is entirely possible, says career architect Edwin Trevor-Roberts, who recently worked with for-purpose organisations in Bhutan for the United Nations. While he was there, he interviewed a monk about meaningful work and centuries-old lessons from the happiest place on earth.

So, what is the new real? “We just don’t know what paying roles will exist in 10 or 20 years’ time,” he says. Although futurists have looked into their crystal balls to predict such gigs as “ethical sourcing officers” who maintain the ethical footprint of a company; and “cyber city analysts”, who keep tech in smart cities up and running — we really have no idea. 

“For that reason, the concept of a career as a destination needs to be reframed as an evolution,” Edwin explains. “You will spend your career constantly learning and moving towards the next thing,” he adds. “And you’ll never get to a point where you feel you’ve mastered everything. But a career can be messy and what is beautiful is how we respond to that messiness.” 

Don’t stress over buzzwords

Rather than clench your jaw when you hear the word “agility” and go all “I-must-have-control”, consider your career a constant experiment, a place in which you can learn and play, says Edwin.

“Agility is a big buzzword and there’s lots of hype around it,” he says. “What it really means is being able to respond to opportunities that come your way.”

The enemy of a great opportunity is a good opportunity, he warns. You, your own career guru, must develop the wisdom to know the difference. That can be based on whether you think you have the right skills or expertise and keeping them up to date. But it can also be about having a mindset that says I’m going to slay this. “It’s not about risk, or courage, it’s about curiosity,” Edwin shares. 

Finding your strut

It’s also about knowing exactly who you are, in a no-Insta-filter kind of way. Faking is so anti-career bliss. Who wants to pretend they’re excited about foreign markets when they’d rather be starting their own not-for-profit?

Serial entrepreneur Patrice Tanaka, founder of Joyful Planet, suggests sitting somewhere quiet and spending some time discovering your own personal “life purpose” before choosing your next career adventure.

“By that I mean asking how you will leverage your talents, expertise and passion in the service of other people and our planet,” she says.

New Yorker Patrice reinvented her own life in the aftermath of 9/11 and the death of her husband by taking ballroom dancing lessons and starting a new business that helps clients globally find their joy.

“Living your life purpose is the best way to remain focused on what matters most, especially during challenging and tragic times like dealing with the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism,” she shares.

By feeling connected to your inner guru, you can change the world, starting with your own life, she says.

It’s not just about what you know 

It’s true that your joy-worthy career may find you regularly studying up on new tech, trends or core skills. But don’t get so obsessed with upskilling that you forget about the other crucial component of your success: building relationships.

“Purely absorbing knowledge is not enough if you don’t have a network that gives you an understanding of the global playing field,” says Edwin.

Make one-on-one contact. Repeat. Again, and again. 

And, if it’s fear of the unknown that gives you the feels — and not in a good way — take one step forward.

“Then take the next small step,” he shares.

In this way, you will have a job or gig you love for life, growing and changing with it.

Don’t just be agile, be brilliant 

Global thought-leader Janine Garner, author of Be Brilliant: How to lead a life of influence, suggests four ways to survive and thrive.

Know you: In The Matrix, the main character (Neo) meets The Oracle and walks under a sign that reads Temet Nosce, Latin for “Know Thyself”. Getting clear on who you are and owning it — constantly exploring, reflecting and knowing that your inner belief and knowledge is what others will see — will you keep growing.  

Be you: Influence starts with you courageously owning all the facets that make you — your strengths and weaknesses — and giving yourself permission to lead from this space.  

Be ready: Being exhausted isn’t leadership or positively influencing others. Become masterful at taking back control and thriving energetically. Say “no” more to protect your boundaries and thriving habits. 

Be heard: You have nothing to hide, nothing to lose and nothing to prove. Be brilliant and step up into the leader you want to be, and by doing so, give permission to others to enjoy the same wild ride. 

Helen Hawkes is a journalist, counsellor, nutrition coach and permaculturist. Her next career is a wellness designer. Follow her @byronbaywellnessathome on Facebook.

For more reading, visit