The workplace has faced tremendous changes in recent years due to advancing technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics, Big Data, automation, globalization, and the Covid-19 pandemic. Because of that, many workers are left wondering what they can do to flourish in such a changing world of work.
Traditional training emphasized technical skills more than it did with soft skills. But in the information era, training programs are more keen on the “how to do” aspect than “want to.” That means today, soft skills have become more valuable.
In fact, transforming workplaces hire people with active listening, persuasion, innovation, and collaboration skills. Therefore emphasizing the human side of your leadership even as technology becomes more prevalent can indeed secure your career.
In other words, it’s advisable to invest in soft skills and develop your interpersonal skills in order to future-proof your career. The article will tell you what soft skills are vital to your career trajectory.
Soft Skills Explained
Soft skills are the skills you need to relate to people and work with them. They’re a combination of personality attributes, interpersonal skills, and people skills. The mixture of these skills affects how you work and interact with others.
Technical skills are the hard skills and knowledge obtained through education and career. They are skills that you need to do your job. It’s easier to learn and quantify hard skills than soft skills.
This begs the question, “Why are soft skills important?”
People use soft skills in their day-to-day activities. They help you work effectively and establish meaningful interactions with others. These skills enhance your employability and accelerate your career progression. The other side of not having soft skills is that it hinders your career potential.
Soft skills have become increasingly important in this changing work environment. Indeed the demand for technological skills will grow substantially due to the significant adoption of AI and automation technologies.
Additionally, there will be an increase in the demand for employees with finely tuned emotional and social skills. The need for these skills will grow by 26% in the US and the UK by 22% by the end of 2030 because, as it is, machines have not mastered these skills.
Therefore it’s crucial to develop the necessary technical skills and soft skills in order to future-proof your career.
Top 5 Soft Skills to Acquire
1. Leadership Skills
One of the popular questions in the world is whether leaders are made or born. Common evidence shows that leaders can be either made or born. You can now develop your leadership skills and become a good leader.
Leading a country, an organization, or even a team is not easy. It’s indeed a demanding and complex job because of the different elements that contribute to human interaction and organizational dynamics. In view of that, no one is born with all the essential attributes and traits to make them a good leader.
Leadership training is beneficial for you as an individual and your organization. It trains you on conflict resolution, communication, decision making, and how to enhance your employees’ engagement and motivation.
2. Critical Thinking
The skill helps people make judgments about problems in relation to the available information. Critical thinking includes gaining insight into a problem, evaluating available evidence, and making evidence-based decisions.
Successful critical thinkers look for evidence to back their arguments and conclusions. They use sound reasoning to find solutions that can solve any problems. Since accomplished critical thinkers are an invaluable asset to the organization, employees with this skill make well-informed and better decisions, thus enhancing the company’s overall performance.
Critical thinking training equips people with tools and techniques to effectively generate ideas that can solve problems. It trains employees to challenge assumptions, ask the right questions, and clearly evaluate situations. Critical thinking skill is vital in real-time work situations.
3. Communication Skills
This is an important skill that can help you build relationships internally and externally, bridge cultural and interpersonal differences, hire top talents that share your ideas, and much more.
Communication skills training aims to help business leaders articulate their intentions and business needs clearly, effectively, and promptly. It’s proper communication of your company policies, job functions, and business processes that can save you and your company time and money.
Further, communication skills help when influencing stakeholders, pitching investors, and negotiating with suppliers.
4. Team building
Organizations succeed when their leaders are able to build flourishing teams. Members of such teams feel empowered and understand their roles. These enable them to contribute to the organizational goals and targets.
Training enables leaders to set and align strategies with organizational goals. It also trains team leaders on how to implement the best processes that encourage members to use their strengths and impact the overall performance.
Further team-building training is an excellent skill for leaders looking to increase productivity and improve employee motivation. It also trains employees how to communicate, delegate, motivate and deal with difficult behaviors and personalities in the workplace.
5. Emotional Intelligence
The skill helps employees read, interpret and influence their emotions and other people. Emotional intelligence comprises relationship management, self-management, self-awareness, and self-awareness.
Emotional intelligence training is helpful because it trains employees and leaders to handle workplace politics, effective communication, self-reflection, and much more. It also helps create a workplace culture where everyone feels respected, valued, and empowered.
7 Tips to Future-Proof Your Career
Develop Your Soft Skills
While robots can be trained to automate technical skills, machines can’t learn soft skills such as communication, leadership, critical thinking, team building, time management, collaboration, etc. Unlike technology, humans display emotional intelligence, and these soft skills make humans superior.
Because of the high demand for soft skills, workers are encouraged to hone them through online classes. Having these skills helps them to be more proactive in their department.
Expand Your Skillset
You need higher skill levels if you want to future-proof your career. It’s important to note that these are not just technology-related skills. Today a college degree is not everything because many people have formal education.
Instead of relying on your college degree, which may not necessarily get you ahead in your career, you may continue acquiring new skills that are on demand, like web or app development or cyber security. In fact, you can develop these skills while still working, thanks to online courses.
Digital learning is less costly and accessible, so you don’t need a student loan or squeeze yourself into a formal class. You can make your future safe by studying during your lunch break. Your employer will be impressed by the efforts you’re making and will ensure that your career is set up for a successful future.
In fact, some employers reimburse fees for continuing education while others offer internal courses to help you keep your technical and soft skills fresh or add new ones.
Keep a Good Inventory of Your Accomplishments
Don’t wait until you get a call for an interview to start creating your portfolio of accomplishments. Waiting until this last minute can be risky because you may forget to list a major achievement, milestone, or something you’re up to lately.
Instead, record your accomplishments and projects as you work through them because it assures you that you won’t forget to highlight them and keep them up to date. It’s important to include professional development courses, volunteer work, and additional training that you have received. Always maintain a digital portfolio because it’s easy to access anytime and anywhere.
Adopt a Change Mindset
Change is inevitable because technology keeps on evolving, and so should be the employees. Actually, people who make it to the top are those that are resilient and adaptable. They are also individuals that are not threatened by automation.
Therefore maintain an open mind when you see your environment changing and be prepared to take it head-on rather than resisting it. Don’t stick to old habits but instead level up your digital skillset.
Some people keep on saying that technology is not their thing. They don’t want to spend a minute learning more about it, yet it makes a major part of their job in most instances.
Instead of being tech-averse, you can enroll in online courses to help you understand programs like Word and Excel better. You can also polish your project management skills because robots can’t compete with humans when it comes to these courses.
Additionally, you can evaluate your job and find out how you can use technology to improve your productivity. For instance, if you do a lot of translation or typing, you can use an application like Google Doc Voice Typing to take notes during a presentation or when brainstorming ideas.
Indeed most of the strategies used to set up processes used by robots are all human-powered. Learning how to work with AIs is one of the tricks of future-proofing your job.
Grow Your Network
Building relationships with the right people can help to future-proof your career. You can build your network via Twitter and LinkedIn. You can offer your expert advice on LinkedIn to attract the right people instead of adding contacts randomly.
Alternatively, you can write a new contact a personal message first before connecting with them on LinkedIn. This will help you grow your network naturally instead of having a huge list of contacts that you hardly talk with, as well as connecting with professionals across the world.
Keep Track of Your Industry Trends
Learn about your industry and its adoption of technology. This will help you decide whether to remain in the field or not. In fact, it doesn’t make sense to stay in an industry that will be completely automated in the near future. Employees working in departments that perform low-skill tasks or repetitive jobs are at risk of being replaced by machines.
You can navigate this challenge by adding more skills so that you can switch to another field before a robot replaces your function. On the other hand, the use of technology in your industry doesn’t necessarily mean that your job will be automatically replaced. It may indicate that technology is one of the ways to be more efficient or do your job better.
Soft skills are vital because they’re what the modern workplace wants. These skills can keep your career safe even as robotics and automation replace some jobs. Also, instead of worrying about the future robot takeover, you can take a proactive approach such as adding more skills, becoming tech-savvy, keeping an inventory of your accomplishments up to date, building your network, and keeping track of your industry.
Have you taken any online course to future-proof your career? Please share with us your experience and how things have changed so far in the comment box.