Business Management
5 min read

The 15 most in demand skills for the future to secure your career

Philippa Golding
Written by

The world is changing, in fact it was already changing long before the pandemic came along. Technology which enables us to work effectively from anywhere such as video conferencing and cloud-based platforms have been around for a while but the biggest acceleration of change caused by the pandemic was in attitudes. With these new technologies, the most in demand skills for the future are rapidly evolving. For those with corporate careers, the pandemic was one giant experiment in remote working: Can workers be trusted to work efficiently and effectively when not being monitored? The answer is a resounding “yes!”. 

The world is changing. The pandemic has caused all of us to change and we’re creating a new work environment. - Marc Benioff

Marc Benioff, Salesforce CEO, in an interview with Yahoo Finance.

It was reported by Forbes that a California-based company has tracked a 47% increase in worker productivity during the ‘stay at home’ period.  “The common assumption is that remote workers are less productive than those who are in a traditional office. But our ability to capture, integrate, and analyze workplace data shows otherwise,” said Crisantos Hajibrahim, chief product officer at Prodoscore - the company who carried out the survey.

The floodgates are open now and it’s difficult for even the most traditional of bosses to close them. Giant corporations such as Google paved the way with this new ‘hybrid’ approach. To take away these newfound benefits the workforce has experienced whilst working from home given the relative success would be nonsensical. Therefore a new, more flexible approach to working is dawning on us requiring a whole host of new professional skills. The future of jobs report by The World Economic Forum found that 42% of core skills required for most jobs are going to change by 2022.

Hiring the right candidates has become increasingly challenging for businesses. Candidates need to demonstrate that not only do they have the hard skills required for the post but also possess a range of soft skills that make them stand out as a valuable team player in whatever location.  

Opportunities to work flexibly and remotely are becoming more commonplace, indeed some might say expected. In turn, there is a global reskilling revolution underway. Read on to make sure you have brushed up on your employablity skills and future-proofed your career. 

The 15 most in demand skills for the future

1. Online communication

Conveying charisma over video is no easy feat. The awkward time delays, unwanted appearance by pets or children, and the dreaded 'you're on mute' scenario have become new workplace challenges. Learning techniques for bringing forward your personality and energy over video link is an increasingly valued skill. 

2. Resilience, stress tolerance, and flexibility

These skills can be summed up as VUCA, which stands for “volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous” and acts as a catch-all for the challenges of a rapidly evolving business environment.

3. Intentional learning

Switch to a growth mindset where you become an active learner, constantly and intentionally seeking out to acquire new skills. Digital disruption is here to stay, yet the workforce does not yet have the skills necessary to succeed. ‘Upskilling’ yourself will ensure your continued desirability on the job market.

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4. Collaboration & teamwork

To combine efforts and resources with others toward a common goal. To work effectively and respectfully with diverse teams. Candidates for remote positions in the Project Management field will want to emphasize this skill.

5. Conflict management

The ability to effectively negotiate and resolve disagreements. Having the emotional intelligence and tact to effectively resolve disagreements is important in every field, but especially in those of Sales, Accounting & Finance and Customer Service.

6. Creativity

The desire to think, do, and express in ways that are different from the norm are not limited to art & design-focussed roles. Professionals in the Computer & IT and Education & Training fields should activity seek to develop their creativity skills. This includes taking existing techniques and putting a unique spin on them.

7. Critical thinking

To gather and objectively assess key information in order to inform consensus or decision-making. An intellectual process that uses analysis, conceptualization, synthesis, and evaluation. Computer & IT, Accounting & Finance, and Business Development are all remote-work fields where this skill is especially important. 

7. Analytical thinking and innovation

Analytical skills are an increasingly prevalent skill to master for the future job market as the digital world collects more and more data at every touchpoint which can be used to inform decisions and innovate. 

8. Cognitive flexibility

The inventor of the Cognitive Flexibility Theory, professor Rand Spiro, describes it as “the ability to spontaneously restructure one’s knowledge, in many ways, in adaptive response to radically changing situational demands.” That is, it produces the versatility needed to effectively address novelty.

Adaptability is about the powerful difference between adapting to cope and adapting to win. -Max McKeown

9. Complex problem-solving

Being able to solve complex problems at a distance is a key success factor when it comes to being able to work effectively remotely. There will always be roadblocks, hence it's important to demonstrate that you can overcome them independently. 

10. People-centricity

Interpersonal skills should be at the center of our activities as we continue to transition into the digital age, be it with customers or teammates. The ability to effectively lead a team which may be partially or fully remote is a core competency to build. Creating a cohesive team with shared goals through online and offline interaction. 

11. Reasoning, problem-solving and ideation

The use of facts and data to back up reasoning and develop solutions to problems is a muscle that must be used often enough to become second nature. This in turn develops a methodical approach to problem-solving which can help create order in chaotic working environments. 

12. Troubleshooting and user experience

In the new customer-centric digital age, it's important to have an understanding of user experience. Critic every digital touchpoint and put yourself in the shoes of your customer - a core competency for marketing and sales professionals. 

13. Emotional intelligence

Employers have been increasingly looking to EQ to hire new talent, especially in customer service and leadership roles. Leaders and team members who are able to understand and harness their own emotions as well as of those around them is a skill widely accepted to translate to increased team performance and morale, as well increased customer satisfaction. 

14. Service orientation

Service culture is an increasingly important skill to hone in the new digital world. Figuring out how best to connect with customers remotely and deliver the same level of service as in a face-to-face interaction is an essential skill to acquire. 

15. Persuasion and negotiation 

Positively persuade others’ choices by focusing on what is important to them and building consensus. Professionals in sales are probably already astute at this skill but it is important for all areas of business and customer relationship professionals to learn the art of persuasion to maximise profitability in an increasingly competitive world. 

 

How to develop essential soft skills for the future 

Soft skills are the low hanging fruits that can, for the most part, be adopted pretty simply into one's behavioural habits. Hard skills take longer to hone, it’s a commonly accepted fact that it takes approximately 10,000 hours to master a skill.

The diagram below indicates that soft skills could be learned in a matter of several weeks. So, how to develop soft skills and future-proof your career?

Image Source: The World Economic Forum Report

It’s a more competitive world out there. You’re no longer simply competing for a position against your counterparts within a commutable distance but rather an international pool of talent with varied backgrounds. 

Use this list of the most in demand skills as a resource to future-proof your career whether you’re an experienced professional or just embarking on your degree. Now is not the time to rest on your laurels or feel defeated by the current global health and economic crisis, after all out of adversity comes opportunity” - Benjamin Franklin.

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