How to Uber-Proof Your Career In A Disruptive Economy

In a world where the modern millennial job candidate gets all the buzz, those of us who are a little older and a little more established in our jobs might be tempted to worry. After all, sometimes it seems like computer skills and social media awareness are the new status quo, and everyone has heard a horror story of an older person being let go in favor of a younger hire.

If you’ve been reading news headlines over the past two years you know that Uber is a start-up company that took over the taxi industry by surprise. Using a free smartphone app, the company allows individuals to find and “call” different kinds of cars for short and long rides in urban areas across the country.

This is great for the consumer, but it disrupted the taxi and car service industry. We should stop and ask: is there an Uber for every industry? And which long-held staples of the business world will be next?

Uber is more than a great part-time side job for the summer. It’s also a metaphor for how you can protect your career from new and different kinds of technology advancements and younger and differently-skilled co-workers.

Here are three things you can do to Uber-proof your career:

Build bridges, don’t burn them

Working with people who are different from you can be stressful, but it’s also an opportunity to show leadership. Instead of shying away from new hires with a different background, age or energy level, make an effort to befriend new employees. Not only will you experience the first-hand, but you’ll also bring a more diverse perspective to the job you do.

Learn new things

Change is constant, whether you embrace it or not. The way you learned to do your job five years ago or even one year ago may no longer be relevant. Proactively keep your finger on the pulse of your work by signing up for updates and newsletters from cutting edge organizations within your industry, then talk about these updates with new coworkers. You don’t have to re-learn everything you know to keep up, but you do need to have a sense of what’s happening in your industry now so that you can adapt if it’s truly a better way to work.

Innovate at work and at home

As you immerse yourself in new opportunities for relationships and knowledge, apply them to ideas and activities both at work and in your spare time. This practice will help you stay a few steps ahead of your industry and turn you into a valuable source of progress for your company — which is a job that cannot be replaced by technology.

Show off your own features

The main challenge of competing with Uber-like new hires is that everyone’s touting the positive stereotypes of young workers such as ingrained computer savvy and enhanced creativity. Instead of trying to take ownership of those stereotypes for yourself, why not re-discover and emphasize the positive stereotypes you perceive to be true for your generation? This could include developing stronger communication and leadership skills or focusing on a difficult skill within your field that takes years to master. The more you focus on cultivating your unique talents, the more valuable you will be in your workplace and on the job market.

In a world of Ubers, companies must protect their business from disruptive startups. In the same way, those established in their careers often feel like they must protect their jobs from younger, more modern job candidates. Since the best defense is a good offense, we hope you’ll use these tips to be proactive about bringing more value to your workplace and collaborating with new hires to make it happen.