Could machine learning replace career coaches?

Buried at the bottom of an an HBR post titled 8 Ways Machine Learning is Improving Company Processes, is a little nugget about the ways machine learning might soon affect career planning. Machine learning could help employees in navigate their career development by providing:

Recommendations (that) could help employees choose career paths that lead to high performance, satisfaction, and retention. If a person with an engineering degree wishes to run the division someday, what additional education and work experience should they obtain, and in what order?

Could this be a career coach in the future of work? It’s a fascinating idea and I’d love to see it in practice. We’ve already seen machine learning technology take over some parts of a career advisors job. There’s even a chatbot in development that’s trying to be a career coach (let’s hope they’re better than LinkedIn’s mediocre job recommendation algorithm.) IBM uses AI to guide job seekers through their search.

A good career coach will listen to you, help you work out ideas, guide you through an ambiguous process, support you emotionally, and reflect your own words back to you. Machine learning technology can’t do this yet, in answer to my clickbait title.

But there aren’t enough good career coaches to go around. And few people can even afford a good career coach. Moreover, not every organization offers career coaching that helps employees navigate their next steps. Tools that help people navigate a world full of increasingly ambiguous career paths are mighty helpful.

Like many jobs, career coaches won’t be fully replaced by robots or artificial intelligence anytime soon. There will always be people who prefer working with people over machines. But the role of career coaches will change as new tools and technology emerge. Career coaches need to be aware of these changes. The workplace and available roles are shifting rapidly. Career coaches need to be able to coach their clients through these changes. They need to rethink outdated career advice, especially given that our job search is becoming less human. University career departments in particular need to upskill.

Today’s post is brought to you by my half way mark to 50K words for #NaNoWritMo. I’m deep into a chapter on the future of work for my book and still finding a ton of good content to write about. The challenge of course is to write about it and not just read about it. Reading is not writing, I have to remind myself a bajillion times a day.

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These are the jobs of the future and they’re already here

What are the jobs of the future and when will they get here? The answer is now.  Mya Systems makes a chatbot that conducts interviews. They work at the cutting edge of Natural Language Processing and are making waves in HR Tech spaces. (full disclosure: I contract with them to design chatbots). They’re also hiring for cutting edge jobs like this one: Language Annotator. It’s a contract role for a current student, ideally someone in the liberal arts!  They’re looking for a student with literature or philosophy background with strong communication skills and an understanding of machine learning. Bonus if they’ve got foreign language skills. This post touches my machine-learning-obsessed-and-liberal-arts-loving soul.

The job:

The jobs of the future are hybrid jobs. Hybrid jobs combine soft skills with digital skills. You’ll find hybrid jobs through out the job listings; popular hybrid jobs right now are product managers and data translators.

These are the jobs we need to train students and alumni for in order to prepare them for an automated workforce. The future of work is already here.

jobs of the future

Chatbot Conversation Design: The future of English major jobs?

“So what’re you going to do with an English degree?” – Clueless relatives and friends of English majors everywhere. 

English majors have skills. They create narratives. They’re creative or at least understand the creative process. They’re comfortable with ambiguity, critical thinkers, can make sense out of massive amounts of information, and have damn good command of the English language.They’re good at thinking from difference perspectives (the foundation of UX!). Yet English majors get a lot of shit for their pursuit of words and language despite the fact it’s going to be English majors with mad soft skills who will survive the future robots-take-our-jobs-apocolypse.

Soon the answer to WTF-are-you-going-to-do-with-an-English-degree may just be: conversation design. Chatbots are everywhere which means there’s a need for people who can write the scripts and design conversation flow. There’s not a steady stream of conversation design jobs yet but I’m seeing more pop up. Yesterday I saw the job post above and it screamed English major (albeit and English major with UX training but hey that’s what GA is for). Excellence in English writing and communications? Check. Copywriting and content creation? Check, easy to come by for any English major whose ever had a blog, run a club’s social accounts in school, etc. Knowledge of current conversational bots? Check, they’re everywhere. The rest can be gained with a little YouTube tutoring and Googling. Chatbot conversation designer for english majors

I’m a bit obsessed with chatbot design right now. I was super impressed by Cindy Gallop’s negotiation chatbot. Mostly though I’m curious about the people who design the conversations, how chatbots improve, and the fine line between shitty and helpful. I also think there’s great potential for chatbots in the career advising space. I’d love to work on a project designing a chatbot for career changers. So if you’re a chatbot company interested in exploring this area, get in touch with me.