Today’s post comes to us from Brandon Bielich, managing editor of The Workforce Institute at UKG, and it features an interview with advisory board member Alexandra Levit.
Welcome to the latest edition of our new feature, Get to Know, where our readers get better acquainted with our advisory board of industry experts. Last month, we spoke with Laurie Ruettimann on her HR career that began in a candy factory. Today, we’re talking with workforce futurist Alexandra Levit about her unexpected journey into HR, her current book and Wall Street Journal column, and more.
The Workforce Institute: What made you first get into HR?
Alexandra Levit: I published my first book, “They Don’t Teach Corporate in College,” in response to the early failures I experienced as a high-achieving college student struggling to figure out what I needed to do to be successful in the business world. When the book unexpectedly did well, HR leaders began hiring me to speak to their young professional employees.
WFI: What is your current role/job and what does that entail?
Alexandra: I’m a workforce futurist, meaning that my job is to see around corners and make forecasts about what I think has the greatest potential to cause disruption in the workforce in the next 5-10 years. I write, research, and work with organizations to develop potential solutions and prepare for contingencies.
WFI: Looking at the past, and the future, what skills have you prioritized over the years and do you think these will become more or less important moving forward?
Alexandra: I would say that my adaptability, or my ability to pivot, is my most valuable skill. As I’ve gotten older and market conditions have changed, my business and skill set have had to evolve as well. Where possible, I’ve tried not to skip a beat. For example, I’m already envisioning that the writing component of my business will become less desirable as smart machines become more proficient here, so I’ve started expanding my skill set into adjacent areas such as interviewing, editing, and fact checking. Even if ChatGPT or another chatbot can write a full column for The Wall Street Journal in a few years, chances are, the powers that be will not allow it to go out without a human set of eyes on it. I will be prepared to be that set of eyes.
WFI: Great point. A popular idea isn’t that machines will replace all of us, but that we need to learn how to work with the machines. Switching gears, you have a new book out. Can you share more about it — the topic, the journey, the work that went into writing it?
Alexandra: My just-released book is called “Deep Talent,” and it was written in partnership with the leaders of Eightfold AI, a company that specializes in talent intelligence. I was intrigued to work with Eightfold because the company had seemingly solved the age-old problem of the skills gap. The new book teaches people how to leverage talent intelligence (or artificial intelligence) platforms to broaden their talent pools and hire people based on what they might be capable of doing, not just based on a narrow, limited view of what they’ve done in the past.
WFI: Recently, the Workforce Institute Weigh-In covered mentorship. Please tell us a time when you were starting out and someone mentored you.
Alexandra: A few of my early mentors in public relations taught me the importance of developing a strong professional persona, or the mature, competent face you project to the work world. It doesn’t matter how smart you are or how hard you work. It’s about other people’s perceptions of you and whether they think you are worthy of being taken seriously or putting forward for advancement.
WFI: What was one of the biggest challenges you faced in your career? How did you overcome it?
Alexandra: I think that all entrepreneurs experience a lot of failures as a matter of course. You have to be willing to throw a lot of ideas against the wall to see which one sticks. However, I think this approach took a lot of getting used to. I was almost fired from my first job. My first publisher went bankrupt. My third book didn’t sell well at all. My first column with The Wall Street Journal only ran for one year. I joined forces with another consulting firm and couldn’t get them to give me any work. The only way to overcome these setbacks is to simply get back up, learn from your mistakes, and try again with a new model.
WFI: That’s seems like an effective mindset. Getting back to HR, what’s a common misconception about the field?
Alexandra: One major misconception is that HR is stuck in the Dark Ages. Especially during and after the pandemic, HR emerged as a major force for survival and change, and now it is up to the profession’s leaders to maintain that leadership position and show CEOs that they deserve to keep that reputation for innovation.
WFI: What excites you about the future of HR?
Alexandra: In general, I feel there has never been a better time in history to be working, and that transfers over to HR. We have the technology at our fingertips to enable meaningful employment, skill acquisition, and scheduling flexibility for so many more people!
WFI: In an alternate universe, where you have infinite skills, what is your dream job?
Alexandra: I’d say that, naturally, I’m more of an ideas person. I’d love to be more of a straightforward business person so that I could put my ideas into more lucrative action.
WFI: Finally, what is your biggest piece of advice for professionals starting out or looking to grow in their careers?
Alexandra: My advice to young professionals is to become as broadly skilled as possible so that you can easily be redeployed within an organization as business requirements shift. This might mean taking on any and all opportunities to acquire transferable skills across a wide range of disciplines, including sales, marketing, finance, IT, customer relations, and HR.
WFI: That is sage advice, Alexandra. Thanks for joining us today for Get to Know!
© 2023 Workforce Institute All Rights Reserved • Designed and Developed by Morether Creative Agency, Temple, TX