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The 5-Year Plan

The year 2020 makes this question sound ridiculous

A common question that is often asked in job interviews says, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Fair enough.

Presumably the interviewers who ask that question want to discover not only what are your future plans, but do you have the ability to forecast things for yourself in the coming years. It’s a common tactic that many job interviewers employ and it’s a question that the prepared job candidate is ready to answer.

At this point in time however, it seems somewhat silly. How many job seekers in 2015 could have foreseen where they were over the past 12 months? Who could have even remotely predicted what we’ve all experienced during the year that is mercifully drawing to a close?

When seen through the lens of 2020, it illustrates the fragility and unpredictability of the job market.

Several years ago a savvy job-market watcher noted that the four most in-demand technology jobs that year didn’t even exist when that year’s college graduates were leaving high school. Given that degree of volatility, who possibly hope to prepare those graduates for the changes the job market wrought during those four years?

Yet that doesn’t stop politicians and academic leaders from boasting about they are planning to meet the job market demands of tomorrow. How could they possibly conceive of working to meet demands that no one knows exist?

Where does that leave the age 50-plus job seeker? Sitting pretty when you think about it. When the precise nature of the future job market is as unknown and unpredictable as it actually is, the most sought after job candidates will be those who have fine honed basic skills and workplace experience.

For they will be the best prepared job candidates in the market.


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