Adaptability and responsiveness are some of the most significant assets that professionals can possess, especially in the current work environment where change is coming quickly, and in many cases, unexpectedly.
As such, I have seen several skills emerge as crucial to professional success, and these are the skills companies look for in their next hires.
Related: The future of work
Here are seven skills that professionals should cultivate and focus on to remain at the top of the talent pool.
1. Digital literacy
Digital literacy is important, both in terms of basic technology: communication programs, collaboration tools like Asana, and software such as Microsoft Office, and in terms of specialised, job-specific technology and software.
Companies are rapidly adopting technology that helps automate various tasks, leaving professionals with the task of managing this technology and focusing on the parts of the job that require a human touch. This means that digital literacy has gone from a “nice to have” to an essential part of your ability to do any job.
2. Customer relationship management
If they haven’t already, companies realise it’s no longer optional to place the customer and what they want at the centre of their business strategy.
As a result, the skills that come along with customer management, such as relationship management, customer engagement, and customer experience, will help you show the way forward into a new way of thinking in which the customer is the pivot point for business decisions at all levels.
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Even if you don’t work in sales directly, you need to know how to sell: your ideas, work and accomplishments to the broader team. Being influential in the workplace is a crucial factor in career success.
Developing your influencing skills like negotiation techniques, communication skills, and leadership characteristics will help bring stakeholders to your side when creating a solution, or presenting your work.
Being influential in the workplace can aid your professional success by helping you be an outstanding leader and accomplish business goals.
Related: How to negotiate for a higher salary
4. Data-based decision making
Companies are increasingly making decisions and creating strategies based on data. As an individual, it’s not necessary to become a data scientist overnight. Data analytics tools are becoming more advanced and accessible, allowing virtually any professional to leverage data to make decisions.
Make an effort to learn the basics of data analytics as they pertain to your particular job scope, and learn to interpret and present data in a compelling way. Your actions and decisions are much stronger when backed by well-presented data.
5. Innovative thinking
Innovative thinking is the cornerstone for change, advancement, and new ways of approaching old challenges. The word innovation has become overused, especially in relation to technology, but the concept itself is as vital as ever.
Innovative thinking is about stopping old practices, being able to approach a problem from a new angle and having the ability to think of solutions that haven’t been tried before.
Related: How to succeed at a new job
6. A growth mindset
Curiosity, an appetite for learning, and the ability to adapt to new situations are all encompassed in a growth mindset. The growth mindset is based on the idea that even if you don’t have the necessary skills, experience, or knowledge, you can learn and grow into the professional you want to be.
This growth mindset ensures that you will never be “stuck” where you are – and possessing a strong mentality that you want to keep learning and growing is essential as the workplace evolves.
7. Relationship management
Managing relationships with agility allow for collaboration, teamwork, and ultimately, the ability to influence different cultures, departments, and demographics within any organisation.
The human aspects of relationship management will ensure that this skill remains essential through any digital transformation - and can be the difference between success and failure in any role.
The importance of upskilling
Upskilling is ultimately about constantly looking for ways to improve your skills through formal education, internal training courses, external training courses, or informal training, such as taking free online courses, and working one-on-one with a manager or a mentor to help you improve.
Increasingly, companies are hiring as much for potential as they are for hard skills and experience. As the workplace changes, employers begin to expect more from their employees, in particular, being open to change, and being able to take on new challenges with ease. Focus on upskilling to keep up with that expectation.
This creates an excellent opportunity for you to be hired not just for the professional that you are now, but the professional you know you can become given the right amount of training, experience, and overall growth opportunities.
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