“Pssst…Robots are After Your Job”

Surviving the Automation Revolution

Will your job be extinct in 50 years? WIRED magazine thinks so. Its 2012 cover story (“The Robot Takeover”) predicts that by the end of this century, over 70% of existing jobs will be automated—to include most traditionally “white collar” professions.  Journalism, education, law, medicine—all of these are fields that are already experiencing the birth pangs of a “second wave” of automation. How worried should we be?

“Pssst…Robots are After Your Job”

Don’t panic. To a farmer in the 1800s, most of today’s jobs would seem unimaginably futuristic. Over the next 50 years, we can expect a lot of changes in the workforce…but there is plenty that we can do to prepare ourselves.

 1. Embrace Uncertainty.

Automation can’t occur until a process has been defined, refined, and hard-coded. In other words, robots can only do what humans learn to do first. While we can expect that machines will obtain intelligence, that intelligence will be limited to solving problems around established laws, algorithms, and principles. For the foreseeable future anyway, humans are best at navigating new waters. We are explorers by nature.

This is why I believe project management should be a skill listed on everyone’s resume. Projects, by definition, are endeavors into the unknown. Operations (the opposite of projects) is about defining and refining essential processes. The end-game of a project to innovate something new—literally to “produce a unique product, service, or result.”

2. Embrace Automation.

As new machines or software enters your industry, embrace it. For you HR folks, think about the first time you encountered Applicant Tracking Software. Here was a system that was able to cull through thousands of resume to filter out the most qualified applicants, all the while communicating to each one about their application status. How many of you were worried that your job was in danger?

Hopefully, none of you—because as automation took over your defined processes, you were able to focus on other important functions previously neglected: for example, building company cultures conducive to risk and innovation.

3. Embrace People.

We may one day live in a world where Androids resemble humans in every respect…but for now, the one thing that machines can’t replicate is empathy. Just try calling an automated customer service number, and you’ll see what I mean. People need to connect with people. Soft skills are fast overtaking technical skills as “must haves” in every industry and profession. Start treating coworkers like customers, and you’ll establish unique value that can’t be matched by anyone (or anything) else

How do you think future technology will change your workplace and job requirements? 

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Sara Gallagher

Sara Gallagher is a consultant, speaker, and certified project manager (PMP) who loves helping all professionals use PM to enhance their work. By day, she works as a consultant for The Persimmon Group. Off the clock, she serves as the Director of Publicity for the Project Management Institute-Tulsa Chapter and teaches kids about project management through a program called PM4Youth. In addition to her role as a contributor for blogging4jobs, Sara writes about business, project management, and her “DIY MBA” education at www.gearsandshifts.com. Connect with her on LinkedIn!

Reader Interactions


  1. AFA Julie says

    This is why it’s so important to never stop learning. We’re currently interviewing candidates for a marketing/communications position at American Fidelity, and some candidates aren’t getting through the process because they can’t answer questions about how they stay on top of industry changes. This field is constantly evolving and people need to ensure they know how to keep their skills updated – and how to answer that question during interviews!

  2. Teresa Knox says

    Great blog post! Empathy gets to needs and I’m quite certain that Robots will never serve humans in that way! Creating experiences over accomplishing tasks, heart before brain…..


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