Future-proofing your career
A constant state of flux is our new normal, with technology rapidly evolving to take care of many tasks people used to do. If you’re in a career or role where technology is making rapid advances, your best defence is to invest in soft skills development – that is, you need to build up your transferable soft skills in order to future-proof your career.
What are soft skills vs hard skills?
Transferable or soft skills are the essential skills that assist in getting the job done that aren’t technical in nature. They are highly prized by employers, and in fact were identified in Hudson’s latest ANZ hiring managers’ survey as their second biggest hiring challenge.
The technical or hard skills required for a role are constantly changing, but soft skills will stay with you throughout your career.
Here are some transferable skills examples that employers are looking for.
With the biggest generation in the workplace soon to be the millennials, we will be seeing strong collaboration skills becoming a requirement. The millennial generation is highly motivated to work collaboratively, and as this generation progresses towards management and executive positions, we’ll see collaboration high on the agenda.
In terms of building soft skills for work, improving your collaboration skills mean practising getting clarity around roles, being a good listener, appreciating the diversity of approach in your team, and resolving disagreements proactively.
When we think of soft skills in the workplace, communication is the one that underpins all the others. Having strong communication skills is the art of knowing when, how and to whom to communicate your information, questions, criticisms and ideas. It’s also about listening and absorbing what others have to say.
To improve your communication skills, start by asking yourself if every email you send is clear, concise, addressed to the right people and expresses your point of view accurately.
3. Managing change and uncertainty
Companies can’t afford to waste time or resources in slowly moving between priorities, projects or operational methods: they need minds that are capable of adapting quickly to an ever-evolving environment.
To improve your change management skills, be alert to signals that your industry, organisation or team might be experiencing a shift, and practise being flexible and open to new ways of doing things. Ultimately, change management is about being able to respond rapidly and calmly when situations change.
4. Leadership skills
Leadership is much more than just project management: it’s about being able to inspire and motivate others. It also means being able to prioritise and delegate tasks.
To practise leadership skills – even if you’re not yet in a management position – you can volunteer to be the ‘owner’ of particular projects or tasks to show you can take on responsibilities. You can also pursue leadership opportunities outside of work, such as in voluntary positions or through external study.
5. Problem solving
Independent thinkers who can solve problems are assets to any team. In any modern organisation there’s always a ready supply of challenges to be unravelled, and to be the go-to person in your team who apply creative solutions and fixes to tricky situations makes you invaluable.
Improving your problem solving skills can be as simple as doing puzzle-based games during your commute, or as proactive as putting your hand up to tackle the questions that have everyone else in your team stumped and making the space in your schedule to think it through, research and ask advice.
6. Strategic thinking
Today’s businesses need those who can participate in higher order thinking: that is, those who don’t just carry out instructions, but who can stay one step ahead and think of the big picture by analysing, synthesising and evaluating. Strategic thinkers generate ideas, turning goals into actions.
If you want to improve your strategic thinking skills, make time in your schedule to read and think, practise asking specific questions, and be a good listener.
7. Forward thinking
The only way to futureproof your career is to make sure you have strong transferable skills that will help you in the future. This means staying on top of current trends and discourses and understanding how your role may change in the future.
While you can’t predict everything in the future, envisioning all possible scenarios will help you prepare for it.
The 7 skills listed above will not only help you acquire new technical knowledge and skills as the world of work changes, but they will make you attractive to employers who need people with a good mindset who are prepared for any challenge.
The benefits of transferable skills are that they make you more employable than if you just have the technical skills on their own. What are your soft skills?