NAB recently announced that 6,000 of its traditional banking staff would lose their jobs as a result of digital technologies, only months after ANZ said essentially the same thing. Customers are banking online, and high street banks are moving towards self-service for many transactions.
The prospect of losing your job, particularly at a time where wholesale redundancies and a fundamental change in your industry means that fewer job opportunities exist, is extremely scary. I experienced this first hand in 2014 when, after a 15-year career in investment banking, I got caught in between a repricing of bank balance sheets, margin compression and a focus on cost. The game had changed.
With technology advancing at lightning speed, change is inevitable and we need to develop the resilience to deal with it. The average person now changes jobs 10-15 times, and transitions careers 5-7 times during their lifetime. It’s a new world of work, but with it comes a whole new wave of opportunities – most of which have not even been conceptualised yet.
That’s why I am so confounded by the onslaught of defeatist headlines. They might trick you into thinking it is the end of the world. Believe me, it isn’t.
“Too bad, so sad, your job is gone, robots can do your job cheaper and more efficiently, so we’re promoting R2D2.”
The people coming leaving employers like NAB and ANZ will have valuable experience and great training. They are smart, they have leadership skills and strong personal and professional networks, and the skills they have learnt in banking operations and customer services will highly transferable.
What about some headlines that are a little more ‘glass-half-full’?
“Experienced, motivated mid-career individuals see gap in adjacent market for disruption, starts new business using the skills learnt in first part of their career.”
Nearly all industries are being disrupted. Unless we, as a society, want to leave a long line outside Centrelink, we might do well to remind ourselves of our resilience and ability to adapt, and we need to start focussing on the opportunities – and less on the negative headlines.
If you find yourself needing to reinvent your career, there are plenty of opportunities to use the skills you have gained to add value elsewhere, not to mention great resources to help you structure your career transition and work through the inevitable swell of emotions that a major life change brings.
Keep your eyes peeled for problems that you are uniquely placed to fix. When Marko and I founded FlexCareers almost 3 years ago, we knew that businesses in Australia and New Zealand needed diversity, and we knew about souring liquidity using algorithms. We took our knowledge, invested in building the technology that we needed and we set about solving problems. It has been the best career move of my life.
But you don’t need to take a risk and start your own venture to reinvent yourself. Our algorithm is successful because it matches people to jobs based on their interests, unique skills and personal attributes. Try to replicate that, by worrying less about job titles and whether the job is similar to one you have done before, and start really thinking (and asking recruiters) what it takes to be successful in that role. Look at the strategy and values of the companies that interest you and uncover opportunities where you can add value.
So to the 6,000 folks at NAB I say this, yes it sucks right now, but do things right and you will look back on this day as the first day of a great new career.
Stop looking, and start seeing.
Joel McInnes, Co-Founder of FlexCareers, is an entrepreneur and business leader with 15 years experience in investment banking and financial services. Prior to founding FlexCareers, Joel was Head of Equity Derivatives at Citigroup for Australia/NZ, and was previously the Founder and CEO of IIT Capital, a startup proprietary trading firm. Joel has strong insight and a passion for the startup industry and is enjoying introducing disruptive innovation and technology into the jobs market.