May 8, 2016

Australian Career Practitioner – Digital disruption and how to help clients secure jobs in a rapidly changing economy

Australian Career Practitioner – Digital disruption and how to help clients secure jobs in a rapidly changing economy

Written by: Sue Ellson
Title: Digital disruption and how to help clients secure jobs in a rapidly changing economy
Date: 1 May 2016 Volume 27, Issue 2, Winter 2016
Format: Article in the Australian Career Practitioner Magazine of the Career Development Association of Australia (CDAA) distributed to CDAA members, Audited Circulation 13,317 September 2013
Publisher: Career Development Association of Australia Inc Print Post Approved PP245227/00042 ISSN 1324-5368
Editor: Zoë Wundenberg
Online at:
Words: 1,541
Published text: See transcript below or download the PDF
Copy of article as it appeared in the magazine: 

Digital disruption and how to help clients secure jobs in a rapidly changing economy by Sue Ellson

Digital disruption and how to help clients secure jobs in a rapidly changing economy by Sue Ellson

Digital Disruption and how to help clients secure jobs in a rapidly changing economy

Sue Ellson, Independent LinkedIn Specialist, Careers Adviser, Trainer, Writer, Author, Speaker, Digital Marketing Business Consultant e:sueellson @

Sue Ellson

The rate of change in every industry appears to be accelerating every day. We are hearing about the effects of digital disruption in virtually every occupation. As CDAA members, we are encouraged to complete professional development on a regular basis. Each week, to maintain my level of professional competency for the work that I do, I attend between one and four live events, I review between 10 and 30 written articles in my niche, I attend webinars, watch videos and more – and that is just to keep up to date – I source even more information when I am writing!

As the nature of work changes, so too are the terms that are used to represent our changing lifestyle. We are hearing about the ‘gig’ economy where workers don’t have jobs any more, they just go from gig to gig (artists, writers and musicians are well versed in this lifestyle). We are also hearing about the ‘attention’ economy where workers who have a brand secure work and those who don’t miss out.

Workers who plateau in their career and do not continue to upgrade their skills, particularly their level of digital literacy, are finding that they are automatically excluded from job opportunities. I have worked with many clients who have incredible stories perfectly recorded in their heads or documented in well organised paper records at home. Their skills, knowledge and networks are often completely hidden from the employment marketplace.

I also attend a lot of events related to entrepreneurs and startups. Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing business in significant ways. Privacy is in theory ‘by design’ – where you can choose to opt-in (like eye tracking when you visit websites from your laptop) with the perceived benefit being a more personalised experience. However, in reality, a huge amount of your online and offline activity is being collected and tracked. Your mobile phone is essentially a mobile tracking device. If you are signed in to Gmail, Google is tracking all of your search queries and online activity.

In the past, data and information was collected on a demographic basis. Now your behaviour is being monitored as a result of the data that has been collected and that information is used for all sort of predictive decision making – including workforce management: no more shonky rosters based on supervisor favourites. Now you will only be rostered on if the demand has been predicted.

This ever increasing use of technology is scaring some of my clients to such an extent that they are often reacting to this invasion of privacy and security by reducing their online presence. Unfortunately, this creates a bigger problem because the future employer cannot verify their bona fides or worse still, even find them in a search either within an applicant tracking system where they have submitted their resume or CV via LinkedIn or Google.

So where does this leave us as career development professionals?

We need to help clients understand that most people who live in Australia can no longer control every aspect of their privacy.

I have been reliably informed that if the police have video footage of an incident and I was at the scene, they can identify my presence by matching the video footage of the incident to my driver’s license photograph.

Multiple crimes have been solved by tracking the movements of a mobile phone even if the person did not have ‘share my location’ application enabled. Our personal records are kept with a broad range of organisations and our electronic transactions using a credit / debit card match us to all sorts of behaviour.

Consequently, in the year 2016, we all need to accept that our personal privacy simply cannot be controlled.

What we can control is our identity and how we relate to and respond to the world around us.

We need to help our clients understand the ways that they can move forward and we have to be able to show them how we have done the same (quick reminder, as a minimum, you must have an amazing LinkedIn Profile completed for your purpose!). We can help them understand what can protect them from the biggest risks and what can help them move closer to their purpose.

Client Digital Protection Strategies

1) Unless essential (for government or banking records), do not use a real date of birth (I usually recommend the 1st of January of the year the person was born – it is easy to remember).

2) Help the client create a LinkedIn Profile matched to their purpose so that they can be found in a Google Search for their name.

3) Encourage the client to create a comprehensive ‘Usernames and Passwords List’ so that they can have different passwords for their various accounts. Invite them to print this list and put it with their important documents (will, passport etc) so that their accounts can be closed after their death or their contacts can be notified of funeral arrangements (gruesome I know but there are now ‘digital executor’ jobs for closing digital profiles). This list should not include passwords to bank accounts.

4) Make sure that they do not publish any sensitive information online at all. They may be able to publish information in an anonymous format or use percentages instead of dollar amounts.

5) Remind them to only publish information that they are happy to see in court. This includes details they add in recommendations – never ever lie or exaggerate the truth.

Innovative Digital Strategies

1) Encourage individuals to register a domain name in their own name ie – this is a low cost investment and if they buy it today but only publish content on it five years from now, it will automatically be a five year old website. Buying it now prevents someone else buying it before they do. I have even purchased the domain names for my children. I recommend but do NOT buy all of the other options they offer (additional names, email, hosting, promotion, security, etc).

2) Create a Google Plus Profile at and in the Links section, add in their LinkedIn Profile URL and links to any other online profiles that they have (if you are a Professional Member of the CDAA, you can add a link to your own profile on the CDAA website) – this will make sure that these results will appear in Google before some other famous celebrity with the same name.

3) Recommend that they become a member of their Professional or Industry Association and promote this in all of their content – resume, LinkedIn, website, Google Plus Profile etc. This associates the profession or industry with the person and supports the member body.

4) Show them how they can build their network both online and offline. Employability is based on skills, demand and access to referral networks – so the sooner a client understands that building a network and maintaining it is vital for their personal income generating capacity, the more likely they are to secure work. At worst, it will give them direct access to the latest developments in their industry or profession.

5) As always, encourage them with new ways to access the changing world of work. Entrepreneurs survive through strategic alliances, collaborations and a commitment to achieving their goals. They are willing to fail, take risks and recover from setbacks. American entrepreneurs are well known for wearing failure as a badge of honour, believing that unless they have failed multiple times, they are unlikely to be a success in the long run!

Preparing for the Unknown

My brother started his career in the Navy and he was told, if you can’t tie knots, tie lots. I like this metaphor! We really do not know what the future holds, so rather than work out what knots we have to learn to tie right now, we could simply tie a lot of knots.

In practice, this means that we need to constantly be aware of the choices available to our clients: what quantitative and qualitative market information is available; what skills we need to acquire; what techniques are working or no longer working; what niches are being created; and how we can cope with the constant changes occurring in society.

We need to offer a non-judgmental space where our clients can safely navigate a path to their purpose. Whilst we may or may not be aware of all of the ins and outs of the client’s profession or industry, we can empower them with skills that can be applied across multiple occupations, enterprises or locations.

It is also vital for us to ask our clients questions about their experiences in the market so we can help them respond to the significant changes and challenges. We need to be courageous, resilient and willing to learn, today and every day.

Disruption in 2016 is often called ‘digital’ – but disruption has been occurring for centuries – things come and go all the time – what has changed more recently is the pace – are you ready for the ride of your life?