Hunter / gatherers attack a wooly mammoth

Job of the Future: Hunter / Gatherer

Around this time each year, lists come out detailing the jobs on the uptick (I see you, cybersecurity) and those on the steady approach to obsolescence (sorry, minecar operators).  The employment trends come and go and shift, but there’s one ancient job set to have a major comeback…

The Hunter / Gatherer.

As the true oldest profession, the classic hunter / gatherer would prepare his favorite pointy stick, then go slay and roast a tasty woolly mammoth with a side of berries (which had been gathered).  An anthropologist would ding me a few points for that overly broad summary, but you get what I’m saying. 

Which brings us to the idea of a nouveau hunter / gatherer for the 2020s.  Why that skillset?  Because knowledge and skills and best practices change daily, meaning we each need to have a facility for hunting down information, then gathering it into a cohesive, understandable, actionable whole.  Here’s an example of what I’m talking about based on a conversation not 24 hours ago…

My friend Lloyd started working with a very small company as a product photographer.  As he proved himself, his scope of responsibilities grew, eventually approaching, then exceeding, his realm of expertise.  Suddenly, he was tasked with updating the company’s WordPress site – something he hasn’t done before.  Problem?  Not for Lloyd.  After making sure his boss knew this wasn’t in his immediate wheelhouse, he got to work learning how to use the platform. 

Hunting down the info.  Gathering together the resources to get the job done.

To borrow from Alvin Toffler…

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. ”

Is this to say you don’t have to show up already competent, just an agile and resourceful problem-solver?  Not at all – it’s more like being an agile problem-solver has now become a requirement for competency.

And the advantages to taking up this job of the future continue…

The Hunter / Gatherer doesn’t live in the past.

What she hunted and gathered (learned) last week was last week and might not be sufficient for today’s needs.

The Hunter / Gatherer is generous.

Yes, we Google, but that’s just for the low-hanging fruit.  Personal connections often play a key role in sourcing what we need. As such, the successful hunter / gatherer isn’t stingy in helping others get what they need, knowing that goodwill generated will likely help them in the near future.

The Hunter / Gatherer isn’t defensive.

Let’s be clear: there’s a context when “I don’t know” equates to “I didn’t prepare” and that’s not good.  But more often than not, the phrase can be taken at face value.  And in that context, the successful hunter / gatherer knows an important truth – “I don’t know” is not an admission of personal failure or an occasion for reacting defensively, but rather a call to adventure. 

So sharpen up those spears, fellow hunter / gatherers.

Put on your finest loincloth.

We’ve arrived in the 2020s and the hunt is afoot.

– Matthew Porter

Matthew Porter writes about decoding success, creative leadership, marketing, and productivity.

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