The future of work – Soft skills (1)

As much as I want to get away from mentioning these Covid-19 times I must say this is a landmark for the future. Many have been worried that their businesses and roles will go under as a result of more dependability on technology. This has indeed already happened and if you don’t become more technology savvy your organisation is destined for the obsolete heap.

However, something else that was not considered important before is now becoming critical. At a minimum, employees need role-specific knowledge and abilities to perform their job duties. In these times those who usually stand out as high performers need some additional qualities, such as the ability to communicate clearly, the ability to work well with others and the ability to manage their time effectively. These abilities are called soft skills.

Machines are replacing some human jobs, so it is important that humans work on their soft (human) skills in order to remain competitive. The future of work will see greater collaboration between humans and machines which means people must develop their soft skills in order to adapt to new demands cognitive flexibility, creativity and complex problem-solving. Machines and humans are going to work side by side.

Soft skills are not tied to one specific job, they are general characteristics that help employees thrive in the workplace, no matter their seniority level, role or industry. They’re often called transferable skills or interpersonal skills. They help identify employees who are not just able to do the job, but are able to do it well. An employee with good time management skills knows how to prioritize tasks to meet deadlines.

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The skills help to choose between qualified candidates who meet the typical requirements for the job. When two candidates have a similar academic and professional background, you’re more likely to hire the one who’s more collaborative and flexible.

The skills help to hire for potential, not just knowledge. It makes sense to look for candidates with a “willingness to learn” and an “adaptive personality”, as opposed to hiring an expert at some levels. They help with making well-rounded hiring decisions. Technical skills count but resilience, negotiation skills and excellent verbal communication abilities go far in a sales position.

Soft skills help to evaluate candidates’ culture fit especially if you value accountability and you want to have employees who can take initiative, it’s important to look for candidates who are entrepreneurial, decisive and have a problem-solving aptitude.

Identifying and assessing soft skills in candidates can be difficult because those qualities are often intangible and can’t be measured by simply looking at what soft skills each candidate includes in their resume. It is important to dig deeper to uncover what the candidate can really bring to the table in terms of soft skills. There are many soft skills but the following ten are critical.

The ability of your staff growing and adapting their skillset will be key to their employability in the future, within and outside your organisation. Especially as new jobs appear and traditional positions become irrelevant or taken by machines. Many companies have already implemented various programs to help upskill their workers. The main challenge is that technological advances are happening faster than ever, making it harder for individuals to change, learn, and adapt. This is why professionals who are able to learn new skills fast will have a competitive advantage over others. What are you doing in this regard?

Cognitive flexibility is the ability to switch between thinking about different concepts or being able to think about multiple concepts simultaneously. Instead of focusing on specialization, many companies have started to search for candidates that have a robust skillset that allows them to approach problems with critical thinking from a variety of points of view. Being able to think creatively and logically at the same time will provide professionals with a competitive advantage, especially with new types of jobs that combine both the left and right sides of the brain.

Critical Thinking and Analysis. As technological advances provide companies with increasing amounts of data, critical thinking and analysis will be key to success. In the future, employable professionals will be those that are able to gather data, understand it, analyse it, and formulate decisions based on that analysis.

This is a time to get prepared. Many companies look alike these days and what will make a difference is in the soft skills of the individual companies. Have a great weekend and begin to think about how you will improve on these skills.

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