Want to make yourself indispensable to future employers?
It’s not just technical skills you need to cultivate. As we move into the new industrial revolution and the pace of change continues to accelerate, the skills you need to thrive in the workplace are shifting, as well.
In my new book, Future Skills: The 20 Skills and Competencies Everyone Needs to Succeed in a Digital World, I talk about how succeeding in the digital world also requires us to understand how technology will impact our world. We will also need to cultivate critical soft skills so we can do the things machines can’t.
Let's take a look at some of the skills that will be in demand by employers in the next ten years.
Digital literacy encompasses the skills to learn, work and navigate everyday life in our digital world. These skills involve the ability to use devices, software, and apps safely and with confidence. People with strong digital literacy skills can communicate and collaborate easily using digital tools, and they keep on top of new technologies and understand how they might impact their job and their business.
2. Data Literacy
For most companies, data is now one of their most important and valuable business assets, which means organizations will want to employ people that are able to take data and use it effectively. In the average business context, data literacy means being able to access appropriate data and work with it confidently. To cultivate data literacy, working on extracting meaning from data and communicating data-based insights to others. With data literacy, you'll also be able to question the integrity and validity of any data you are working with rather than just blindly following the information you are given.
In this era of fake news, social media bubbles, and information overload, critical thinking is at the top of the list of the most vital skills to cultivate for success. Thinking critically means analyzing issues and situations based on evidence rather than hearsay, personal opinions, or biases. When you are practicing critical thinking, you can question the validity of evidence and figure out what’s true and what’s not in a variety of situations.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to express and control our emotions. An emotionally intelligent person is aware of how their emotions influence their own behaviors and impact others around them and can manage those emotions accordingly. I believe empathy – the ability to see the world from someone else's perspective – is a key component of emotional intelligence.
Have you ever wondered what creativity really is? One way to define it is "the act of turning imaginative ideas into reality." Creativity will be one of the most desirable skills in the future workplace, especially as we hand more and more routine tasks over to machines. Creative thinking, like coming up with new ideas, problem-solving, imagining beyond the status quo, and implementing ideas to fix issues and make things better, will be critical in the workplace of the future.
The nature of collaboration and teamwork is changing as teams evolve to include hybrid workers, fully remote workers, contractors, and other employees who flow between projects and teams. In this changing workplace, you will need to be able to effectively collaborate and communicate with a variety of colleagues and coworkers.
Are you open to change? In the workplace of the future, change is going to be even more of a driving factor than it is today. We'll have to continually contend with new technologies, rising automation, the rapidly evolving pace of work, and vast business disruptions. We must all develop the mental resilience to thrive in times of constant change. Adaptability – the ability to adjust to new conditions – is key to developing flexibility. Adaptable people are open-minded, curious, and willing to learn new things because they focus on opportunities, not obstacles.
Good leadership is about bringing the best out of other people and making sure they can thrive. And if you think leadership skills are only necessary for those at the top of the ladder, think again. Factors like distributed teams, increasing diversity, the gig economy, and more fluid organizational structures mean that leadership skills will be important for every individual throughout the company – whether they are leading a project, a team, or an entire department.
Whether you work from home, work full-time in an office, run your own business, or work for an organization, the ability to manage your time effectively is essential for your workplace performance. Remember that time management is about working smarter rather than harder. Putting in extra hours isn't necessary for people who are great at managing their time. They know when they are most productive and use this time wisely, reserving their less productive hours for other tasks.
Cultivating effective time management skills is also important for your mental health. When you can manage your time effectively, you create a better work/life balance to ensure you have room in your life for the things that are most important to you.
If I were to pick just one skill that I think everyone must cultivate, it would be curiosity. Whatever your age or industry, adopting a mindset of continuous learning is critical to thriving in tomorrow’s workplace. Curiosity and continual learning will help you stay flexible and embrace change, as well as help you keep your skills sharp so you can keep up with the major changes taking place today. Want to stay relevant to employers and give yourself the best chance at building a successful, fulfilling life? Adopt a growth mindset and spark your desire to learn.