For media companies looking to stand out in the attention economy, getting a well-known Leadership & Management Expert to write on today’s hottest topic, remote work, is a smart move. Brand name + trendy career topics = clicks. And getting that expert to write that remote work is “terrible for your career” is sure to bring in a few rage clicks.
Telling people that remote work will kill their leadership opportunities feels like a desperate attempt by out of touch leaders to stop a generational shift. Flexible work hours, which includes remote work, are the most sought after perk in the workplace. Millennials are leading the charge for more flexible work policies.
But they aren’t the only ones. Spend any time in a Facebook group for moms, travelers, and anyone other community who’s population is still required to show up for a 9-5, and you’ll see post after post of people asking how to get a remote job. Drop into the #digitalnomad or #remotework hashtag on Insta and you’ll see the cat’s already out of the bag. Remote work is fucking great for your career and those of us doing it know it.
I spend a lot of time reading and writing about AI in the workplace which means I spend a lot of time reading about AI in general. But I wasn’t at all prepared for this:
Now hundreds of summer camps across the United States have tethered their rustic lakefronts to facial-recognition software, allowing parents an increasingly omniscient view into their kids’ home away from home.
I spend a lot of time reading about AI products and their impact on society, but using facial recognition on teens at a summer camp (and a phone-free one at that) so companies can sell fear and anxiety to parents who then transfer that anxiety right back onto their kids, really caught me off guard.
Excellent analysis by @drewharwell – “Some of the kids… are so accustomed to constant photography that they barely notice the camera crew.” – we are acclimating the next generation to a surveillance state.— Rumman Chowdhury (@ruchowdh) August 9, 2019
“It coaches you on what to say on the [first] call,” he says. “Some of it will encourage you to be calm. Some will give you specifics into what kind of person they are, like ‘traditional’ or ‘modern’ lifestyles.”
Let’s address the elephant in the room first: LinkedIn is one of the least exciting places to spend your precious internet time. There’s good reason for that: it’s just a mixed bag of self promotion, #humblebrags, and weird nudges from LinkedIn to congratulate people you don’t know on their new job. There is far more interesting content to explore elsewhere on the interwebs.
I get that. I’m not here to convince you that LinkedIn is great. Instead, I want to make LinkedIn more useful for you. Whether you’re scanning LinkedIn because you need an escape from your job or because someone told you to be on LinkedIn becausenetworking, I want people using LinkedIn to learn something tangible that improves their career situation.
For the month of August I’m teaching people how to upskill. Upskilling is the process of learning new skills to improve your professional life. It’ll also help you stay relevant in a rapidly changing workforce. With so many ways to learn new skills, from digital bootcamps to certificates to online courses to YouTube, figuring out how to make it work for your career can be a challenge. I’ll teach you how from LinkedIn.
This will be an experiment on my part. I wrote a book about upskilling and career changes, so I’m bursting with useful content to share. I’ll be using some content from my book, as well as videos, podcasts, and other media I’ve collected about upskilling and career changes along the way.
There’s no homework for this course. But you can still participate. Follow along and if you have a question or want to share your experience, comment on the posts. I’ll answer your questions.
Below is a syllabus for the themes I’ll cover each week.
Upskilling: Nailing down a definition
Not just the robots: Why upskilling matters (hint: it’s less about robots and more about changing business models)
How to upskill: Bootcamps, online courses, and DIY learning, oh my!
Upskilling for career changers
Power Skills: The skills employers want most
Evaluating upskill options: Online Courses
Evaluating upskill options: Bootcamps
Evaluating upskill options: DIY Learning
Evaluating upskill options: Workplace Learning
Upskill now: Highlighting interesting courses and opportunities to get you to upskill this year
Skill-building bootcamp showcase
Online courses showcase
Open learning resources
How to find workplace upskilling opportunities
Crafting a personal learning syllabus
Using the 2×2 method to keep you relevant in your workplace
Embracing career changes and skill building as the new model for career success
Wrap up and next steps
I encourage you to send me questions, ideas, programs you like, and more LinkedIn. Feel free to connect with me with a message letting me know you’re interested in following the Upskill Yourself experiment.
And if you’re curious about how to upskill and change careers, I’ve got just the book for you.
In my last post, I wondered if people considered LinkedIn a learning platform given their immense collection of online training for the workplace.
Now I’m thinking about the flip side: is LinkedIn a teaching platform? Could it be?
One of my LinkedIn contacts frequently teaches in his updates. He stands out from the rest of my contacts in that he’s not just promoting himself (or sharing those terrible #humblebrag stories.) Instead, he teaches and when he does, I learn things.
Most of his content is related to data analytics, a subject I’m super interested in. I’m currently studying Python for data analysis and contract for an AI startup. So I found it mighty helpful when he shared this:
And I really enjoyed learning new vocabulary and concepts from the post below, even though it’s still quite advanced for me.
He also shared a helpful tip for job seekers:
His content stands out from everyone else in my network.
I thought about him as I was writing the post on LinkedIn as a learning platform. When I asked in a Facebook group whether or not LinkedIn is a learning platform, two responses reminded me of him:
I learn a lot from my connections on LinkedIn but it’s their content, not the platform, that initiates this. LinkedIn needs a lot of work!
You can find people from which you can learn but it’s not the main focus of the platform
I wondered: could LinkedIn be a teaching platform? And would it be a more valuable place to spend your internet time if it were?
I’m not referring to teaching a course on LinkedIn learning. I’m interested in using LinkedIn to teach a subject using updates, videos, and shared content. What would it look like? Would people engage? How would they engage? I teach a variety of subject in workshops, webinars, and online courses. I’m curious what it’d look like to teach using LinkedIn.
This isn’t a new concept. I see career coaches occasionally teaching on LinkedIn.
I’ve just never tried it. I’m a power user on LinkedIn and I share articles of interest frequently. But I’ve never tried using it as a teaching tool. I’m interested in intentionally tried teaching a subject, planning a curriculum, and seek out diverse resources for people to explore on a given topic.
So I’m going to try an experiment on LinkedIn. For the month of August, I’m teaching people how to upskill.
The term upskilling is a phrase thrown around casually in organizational development and future of work circles. Upskilling is mostly focused on managers who are deciding between hiring new people or training existing employees to adapt to new business models. However, there isn’t much coaching for the actual workers who are trying to figure out how to reskill. From evaluating bootcamps, to selecting online courses that build digital skills, to finding ways to up your skills at work, upskilling is still a relatively new concept to many.
So I’m going to teach it. I spent a third of my book teaching people how to upskill. I’ll use that as my framework and content for teaching the subject on LinkedIn.
Since this is an experiment, I’ll document along the way. If you’re curious, follow me on LinkedIn and participate.
Full confession: I spend more time on LinkedIn than Instagram. My friends make fun of me when I tell them this. It’s embarrassing because LinkedIn is easily the least exciting social platform to spend your precious internet time on. But I speak and write about emerging careers and trends in upskilling, so LinkedIn is part of my daily internet consumption routine and embrace the awkwardness of it.
This week LinkedIn popped a recommended course into the top my feed.
That action reminded me that LinkedIn has an entire catalogue of courses on offer, a fact that I’d totally forgotten. Clearly this was the intent of the designers. They wanted to remind users like me that LinkedIn isn’t just a place to read professional #inspo stories of people you don’t know.
Employee surveillance is all the rage in 2019. Advancements in facial recognition technology, wearables and sensor data, data analysis and machine learning, have created a rich product landscape that makes it easy for your employers to track you at work and outside of it.
The market for Employee (Automated) Monitoring Solutions is around $1.1 billion but analysts expect it to grow to about $3 billion by 2023. That’s a whole lot of worker spying headed our way.
Amazon is the most enthusiastic and well-known employer to embrace employee surveillance technology. They routinely subject their warehouse employees to a brutal work environment in which everyone is tracked, measured, and pushed to meet ever-increasing metrics. The mindset seems to be that any moment spent not producing – whether its going to the bathroom, saying hello to a coworker, or taking a moment to think – is money stolen from the company. The result is a hellish place, in which workers suffer from depression and injuries, creating a corporate culture of distrust.
Employee surveillance tech is hot hot hot
If you don’t work in an Amazon warehouse it’s easy to think that surveillance technology is a world a way from your workplace. But you’d be wrong. Gig economy workers are already managed by algorithm, with plenty of tracking and nudges to get workers to obey the algorithm and keep working.
In fact, companies use of employee surveillance technology is only growing:
Last year, the research firm Gartner found that more than 50% of the 239 large corporations it surveyed are using “nontraditional” monitoring techniques, including scrutinizing who is meeting with whom; analyzing the text of emails and social-media messages; scouring automated telephone transcripts; gleaning genetic data; and taking other such steps. That’s up from just 30% in 2015. And Gartner expects those ranks to reach 80% by next year. – Workplace tracking is growing fast.
Employee surveillance technology is going to make your worst manager even worse. Employers are collecting increasing amounts of data about you, both at work and outside of work. The data is fed into algorithms designed to categorize and analyze you. The result is delivered on a dashboard, accessible by your boss and leadership. The data your produce, and the decisions made based on that data, are rarely shared with with you, the employee. Sometimes your data is shared with third party companies.
Choose a company that trusts their employees and respects your private data
Now that employers are highly invested in monitoring their employees habits it’s important to know just what kind of culture you’re headed into as you search for new employment. It’s unlikely employers will play up their use of employee surveillance tech on the about page (algorithms aren’t so photogenic after all). Ensure you don’t end up working for a company culture that breeds distrust or puts your personal data into the hands of a bad manager or third parties by asking the right questions.
We all know that asking questions as the end of the interview is a smart move. It makes you look informed and engaged. Use this time to ask the hard questions about employee monitoring.
Employee surveillance interview questions
Here are the top interview questions to guide you in your search for a company that both trusts their employees and cares about your data privacy.
What is the company’s position on employee monitoring?
The future of work is not set in stone. We don’t have to trade our personal data and privacy for a job. Asking questions about data privacy and surveillance monitoring helps us push back on invasive tech and data privacy violations in the workplace. You deserve to work in a place where you aren’t monitored continuously. Find those companies and champion them.
If this article is your jam you’ll definitely like my book. It’s jam packed with upgraded career advice to navigate a new world of work. Sign up to get on the list to get notified when it’s published.
tl;dr: Next round of interviews takes place starting July 22. Sign up here to share your career change stories.
The last two weeks have been a whirlwind! I’m half way through recording interviews for my mini podcast for career changers, 50 Conversations.
The podcast project started as part of my new book which arrives in Fall 2019. The book teaches people how to change careers, upskill, and thrive in a rapidly changing workplace.
When I put the call out for interviews with career changers on LinkedIn, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The brilliant part about career changes is that they come in all shapes and sizes. My goal with the mini-podcast is to showcase the variety of paths people take while showing others how to change careers.
So far all the conversations with career changers have been riveting. The list of topics we’ve covered is long: bootcamps, online courses, going back to school at 35, masters degrees versus certificates, learning to code, imposter syndrome, community college programs, working in cutting edge roles, artificial intelligence and automation, workplace learning, layoffs and bouncing back from layoffs, the future of work, and so much more. There have been plenty of giggles and more advice than I could possible write in a blog post.
The conversations span Gen X and millennials, including two recent college graduates who have already changed careers. Most, though not all, are college graduates of the last 15 years who are to figure out the new career narrative, one that doesn’t match what they were promised when they got their college degree.
I’ve interviewed people who are just starting over, people who are in the middle of a bootcamp experience, and those who are on their fourth career change. All of the conversations are filled with nuggets of wisdom, reflection, and success.
Want to share your career change story or know someone who does? Submit your info and I’ll reach out in July when the next round of interviews resume.
Interviews with the next batch of career changers will resume in mid-July. The first podcasts will be released in late July. If you want to know when they’re available for your ear, sign up below.
With this new free time I’m launching a new summer project. It’s based on my love of podcasts, conversations, and people. 50 Conversationsis a limited run, mini-podcast featuring informal conversations with career changers.
Mini-podcast is really just code for informal podcasting because these audio nuggets won’t include intro music, editing, or sponsors. It’s simply short conversations with people who have made the jump from one career to another. You can sneak a listen to these stories on your commute and between meetings.