Digital transformation is rapidly changing the world of work, with emerging technologies continuously changing the skills we need to be successful.
As a professional, have you paid attention to the changing nature of your job? Have you had a thought about what your job might look like in 10 years’ time, or if your job will even still exist? It’s likely that the skills we will need for the jobs of the future will be completely different to those of today.
One thing is certain, as technologies continue to evolve and job requirements change, your ability and willingness to continually develop your soft skills could help you keep your job in the future.
Soft skills are what the best employees use to behave professionally around others and perform to their full potential. What really counts are our non-technical skills, such as our ability to manage ourselves, our teams, our clients and stakeholders. Having technical knowledge is important, but well-developed soft skills may prove to be a competitive advantage over a job-threatening robot—after all, robots are far from mastering critical thinking, leadership and communication skills.
As valuable as they are, exam results and qualifications are only two of many factors employers look at when hiring. Students also need to continue to work hard on developing the skills and behaviours employers are looking for. It’s important to understand the purpose of each skill, and how vital it is to use it as best you can.
So, what are some of these soft skills and how should you go about employing them?
Build logical arguments, negotiate successfully and show an appreciation for both sides of the argument. Communicating effectively at all levels is an incredibly important skill. Keep an open mind, demonstrate your ability to listen and present your idea in a formal manner, and you’ll collaborate with success.
Think of the team, not just yourself. Recognize the value of others, and appreciate other people’s stresses. Showing your ability to collaborate and work effectively with other people is one of the most essential soft skills you can have. The needs of your colleagues are just as important as your own. Work together and the solutions will come about much faster.
Good decision-making means using all the information at your disposal to produce the best possible outcomes, even when you’re under pressure. If you take your time and conduct your research, then you’ll be confident about any recommendations you make.
Respect others, respect the company and always consider reputation. By working for a company, you have a responsibility to uphold their reputation as well as your own, so you should always present yourself in an appropriate manner.
Seek out opportunities, exceed people’s expectations, and be independent and committed. You should try to evaluate your work with immense attention to detail, determine every possible way of adding value and ultimately push yourself to succeed on everything you do. Do this, and you build not only on your own reputation, but the reputation of the company as well.
Look for risks in the problem you face, approach it by establishing a cognitive and reasonable solution while aiming to create the best outcome for everyone.
Always look to develop your skills by identifying where you have knowledge gaps and plan ways to develop skills or gain extra knowledge. When you feel confident you have the knowledge, share your expertise with colleagues and clients
Mark Protherough is Executive Director, Learning and Professional Development at ICAEW.