Get it Through the Grapevine

Food service unit newcastle front.jpgAbove: Secure employment. People will always eat. The food service unit at Flourish Australia, Newcastle 

Acquire interpersonal skills, and stop the robots from taking your job!

By Warren Heggarty

‘If you have good interpersonal skills’, social analyst David Chalke told the Sunday Telegraph, ‘there will always be a job for you’ (Burgess, 2017). Which leads to the obvious question: ‘what if I don’t have good interpersonal skills?’

There are two ways of approaching this. Firstly, try to find a job which doesn’t require good interpersonal skills. Secondly, LEARN to have good interpersonal skills. 

The first approach sounds easier, but the robots are coming. Robots, not noted for their good interpersonal skills, are going to take over jobs where interpersonal skills are not so important. 

STEM jobs (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) are often spoken of as jobs for future expansion. However, according to Andrew Norton at the Grattan Institute, ‘there is a significant oversupply of science graduates, and as a result they are not finding work that uses their knowledge and skills.’ (Creighton & Ritchie, 2017)

The job areas that ARE expanding include nursing, aged care and disability care. Sales assistants, waiters and baristas are also expanding. Personal care, training and fitness are a growth areas, too. This brings us back to the second approach: acquire the interpersonal skills. (Creighton & Ritchie, 2017)

People who hire people tend to hire people they know. When a vacancy comes up, you would like those people to be thinking of you.

How do you learn to have good interpersonal skills. Inventor Nigel Dalton says that although robots will take over some jobs, people could make sure they didn’t become ‘irrelevant’ in the workplace by means of continual learning. Education ‘is the key to being relevant in the future.’ (Burgess, 2017)

Life long learning. They’ve been saying that for years… People have never been so well educated, but jobs have never been so hard to find. So is there a THIRD approach that doesn’t involve ‘continual learning?’

The old saying is ‘it’s not WHAT you know (skills) it’s WHO you know (connections). Can developing connections save you from the robots? After all, robots are not likely to be part of a network of people helping one another out. Are they? Are they?

Acquiring job skills alone will not swing it for you. You have to put your message out on the ‘grapevine’ that you are looking for a particular type of work. ‘Networking’ is a scary word, made scarier by its use in business management writing, but it might be time to start building your own network. Or getting on the trellis and using the grapevine. 

People who hire people tend to hire people they know. (Kobara & Smith, 2017) When a vacancy comes up, you would like those people to be thinking of you!

By the way, according to an analysis by PwC for The Australian newspaper, the occupations that have suffered the biggest contractions since 2012 are secretaries, florists, metal and wood trades and electrical engineers. (Creighton & Ritchie, 2017)


Burgess, M. (2017, October 15). “Why it can be hard work to keep a job,” Sunday Telegraph.

Creighton, A., & Ritchie, E. (2017, June 6). “New jobs: it’s more about bodies than brains,” The Australian newspaper. Kobara, J., & Smith, M. (2017, October). “Job Networking tips. Retrieved from Help Guide. org:

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