As the year 2020 has shown us, the world is constantly changing and becoming more unpredictable. One of the many things affected by this change are jobs and careers. As the world is evolving with lightning-speed advancements and mind-boggling developments, you’re probably wondering now if the same skills still apply in a changing environment filled with uncertainty and how you can gain new skills to help boost your career and increase your chances of remaining employable.
The good news is that the majority of the skills required to keep pace with the current circumstances are soft skills. These practical, career-enhancing skills allow you to evolve as fast as the environment around you and help you thrive in it. Plus, they tend to become even more valuable over time.
Why is it important to develop new skills?
It is a fact that the world is always changing and there are new discoveries every day in almost every industry. Without conversion, employees and businesses can easily fall behind, which is why learning new skills and developing new competencies is essential to the success of your professional career.
Gaining new skills helps you develop new techniques, grow in your field, access new job opportunities and achieve your goals. But most importantly, it increases your adaptability in the fast-paced world we live in today. A lot of time, employees find themselves in unfamiliar situations where they have a hard time to adapt, learning new soft skills gives them the confidence to confront challenging situations and nurture a growth mindset that helps them not only grow professionally but also as a person.
Nurturing new skills gives you a sense of newness and a certain level of advancement, so you can think more creatively and more easily solve problems you may face. Moreover, when you’re learning new skills, finding a job will never be an issue for you. Bringing freshness and innovation into a workplace is highly appreciated by managers. Hence the increasing demand in the market for these new skill sets.
How to develop new skills ?
Nowadays, there are many ways to expand your skill set or to develop your current skills in order to meet the demand in a job market that is becoming more and more challenging. Here are the major guidelines to follow in your learning journey:
Find focus in a distracted world
With the development of digital technology and the race of productivity, it is more and more common to have to juggle between two or more tasks at the same time. And while a lot of people master the art of multitasking, it shouldn’t be the norm especially while learning a new skill.
Distraction has become a pressing issue for everyone who owns a smartphone. In fact, just logging on to your social media platforms can easily take up hours of your time and in most cases not give you any added value. That is why it’s important to set rules and control your smartphone usage.
Now that distraction is out of the way, you can start focusing on your learning journey by first of all, defining the skills you would like to develop or acquire. You can find those by reviewing job descriptions for positions you want, looking up skills related to your field/industry or simply asking yourself what you would like to learn or something you’re very passionate about. Next, set up realistic goals for yourself. In this sense, make sure your goals are tangible, measurable, achievable and relevant to your career; this will help you keep track of your development while nurturing a sense of achievement every time you complete a goal no matter how small it is.
Finally, create a schedule with fixed study times. Having a study plan to follow makes it much easier and stress-free to acquire and master new skills. The latter should fit into your daily routine without interrupting it so that you can focus solely on your learning without any rush or pressure.
Learn something new every day
Whether you are focusing on one specific skill or multiple ones, try to learn something new about it every day. Your natural human curiosity will probably make this easier, but it is your responsibility to not get lazy and keep feeding your curiosity daily.
Getting to learn new things every day will make your learning journey much more exciting and fun since you are not stuck in a repetitive and routine-ish pattern but instead every day is unique since you’re gaining new knowledge about something.
According to this, you can try the “five-hour rule”, which consists in redesigning your working time to liberate an hour of your working day to dedicate it to learning a brand new concept. You can also join a professional association in your field to meet like-minded people. This is an opportunity to discuss with colleagues that are in the same industry and learn more about new skills to develop, new changes or anything relating to your domain of expertise.
There are many other ways to engage in developing new skills such as enrolling in online courses, participating in job shadowing, finding a mentor and so on, you just have to find the one that best suits your needs.
Top skills required for jobs in 2021 and beyond
Due to the high demand, the job market is becoming more and more selective and challenging. So, in order to increase your chances of getting your desired position, there is a wide range of work skills that you can develop and nurture to boost your career in 2021:
1. Complex problem solving
At the top of the list as the most desired skill to have in 2021 is complex problem solving. Complex problem solving is the ability to solve new problems in complex real-world settings.
To put it in simple words, it means having the capacity to deal and solve problems that you’ve never faced before in a constantly changing and complex environment. In a world that is rapidly evolving and dealing with new issues every day, companies need people that can think outside the box and find creative solutions. According to The Future of Jobs report by the World Economic Forum, more than 36% of all jobs across all industries require complex problem solving as one of their core skills.
The good news is that this is not a skill that anyone is born with; it is something that you can learn and develop over time. When listing, hiring companies do not expect their employees to solve world problems, they just require them to have a strong foundation of critical and lateral thinking which allows them to be able to see the bigger picture when they face a problem and be able to make the right changes to improve the situation.
2. Critical thinking and analysis
Critical thinking and analysis are also one of the most valued skill sets to have in the future. In fact, being able to use logic and reasoning in everyday situations or being able to confront challenging issues is essential in every job. There are a lot of ways to become a more critical thinker, this involves developing different approaches to dealing with certain situations or weighing up the pros and cons of each approach.
3. Creativity and innovation
With all of these new technologies and new ways of working being developed every day, creativity and innovation have become essential skills to have in order to keep up with the pace of this changing environment.
There is this misconception that creativity is exclusively for people in certain domains like art, music, writing… But that’s not true; as long as you’re able to connect the dots between the information you have and collect all ideas to present something new, you are considered a creative person.
And while it is true that you can’t follow rules or processes to become a creative person, there are ways to unleash the creativity within you by being curious, letting your mind wander and using self-expression to nurture the habit of giving up limitations and letting your creativity take the lead.
4. People management
The employees of a company constitute its most valuable resource no matter how advanced and human-like artificial intelligence or technologies become. Working as a team creates a very exciting, fun and dynamic work environment. You get to share ideas with your co-workers and support each other.
However, that also means that sometimes, someone in the team may get sick or unmotivated or distracted. So, it is crucial for managers and team leaders to know how to deal with this kind of situation, to motivate their teams, boost their productivity and take into consideration their needs. This involves developing your own management style that suits your team members while also staying true to who you are as a person.
5. Coordinating with others
Having strong social interpersonal skills is a huge plus when it comes to job seeking as hiring managers have been putting more emphasis on it over the years. Someone who is collaborative with strong interpersonal communication skills is highly valued because he/she contributes to creating a pleasant work environment.
Coordinating with others allows team members to be more efficient and know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, which is a great advantage since it helps them develop a certain level of flexibility and adaptability.
6. Emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence is slowly but surely making its way to being one of the most desirable skills for jobs in the future. Being emotionally intelligent is understanding and being in touch with your own emotions but also your colleague, partner, family and friends’ emotions. It allows you to adapt your behavior and form every social interaction you have based on a deep understanding of your emotions to achieve positive results. This skill is particularly important for managers and team leaders to make the right decisions and improve the overall work environment.
7. Judgment, analytical thinking and decision-making
The ability to make an objective judgment and take the right decision based on analytical thinking is forecast to move up the list of required skills for jobs in 2021. In the past few years and going forward, businesses are relying on data collection to improve their performance. Hence the growing need for employees who are able to collect, understand, analyze and use this data to implement successful business strategies and decisions.
In order to start making smarter decisions, you need to get comfortable with manipulating databases and extracting insights from it. For this, figure out what questions you want to answer and start exploring the data tools and technologies you have to get your answers.
8. Service orientation
As businesses in certain sectors such as retail and energy are facing more consumers showing their concerns about issues such as climate change, food safety, labor standards… It is critical for employees in these companies to have strong service orientation skills in order to respond effectively to consumers’ concerns and anticipate their needs for the future.
Job seekers must develop the ability to step into the mindset of consumers in order to anticipate new values, translate them into product offerings and adapt their services to further satisfy their clients.
Negotiation is one of those social skills that will gain in popularity in the next few years as everything is becoming automated and dehumanized. Luckily, humans are far better at social interaction than any AI solution or robot.
Being able to negotiate with your colleagues, managers, clients and teams is a key feature for every business to ensure its success. And while everyone seems to think that being a good negotiator is inherited, it can be learned and developed with the right tools and lots of practice.
10. Cross-cultural skills
As businesses worldwide are looking to create more diverse and inclusive workplaces, the necessity for cultural sensitivity and awareness as a skill is at its all-time high. Cultural awareness is the knowledge and acceptance of cultural differences and similarities between people without assuming that one is better than the other or vice versa.
This skill is related to cultural competence where people showcase effective communication and understanding while having different cultural identities and backgrounds. Being able to successfully navigate different cultures and interact with them by learning new ways of thinking, expanding your interests, getting out of your comfort zone and embracing new challenges is something that is sought by big corporations and will help you boost your career internationally.