About ten years ago, it was hard to imagine that they would expect from marketers a thorough knowledge of digital technologies and the ability to work with them hands, from IT specialists – the ability to build relationships with people, generally from everyone – the ability to speak brightly to the public and make concise and interesting presentations . But the world is changing – basic skills for professions are changing.
Life story: Sergey is the most experienced specialist in the technical department. All the most difficult, “catchy” tasks are entrusted to him, because no one is better than him familiar with the complex program in which the department works. But he is hardly promoted along the career ladder. A young upstart, who came here only two years ago, was appointed to the vacant seat of the department head in the company where he worked for eight years. When Sergey directly asked the boss – why, he answered that Sergey, of course, appreciates it very much, but the “upstart” builds relations with people much better than him, knows how to explain complex technical things to the heads of other departments in simple language and in the first year of work he proposed a solution that optimized the work of the entire department.
Sergey was offended. Instead, it would be worth listening to the boss and developing the skills that he called. If you imagine that after another five years the technologies and the program with which Sergey’s company works will become obsolete and the company will switch to completely new ones, then Sergey’s unique experience, and he as a specialist, will lose value.
Specialized knowledge and experience are no longer as valuable in the eyes of employers as they were before if they were not backed up by universal skills.
What are universal or soft skills?
Today, no matter what profession you possess, it is not enough to once master the necessary highly specialized knowledge, hone their application in practice in five years, and then simply build up your reputation. Everything around is rapidly changing: business processes are becoming more complicated, information flows in any professional environment are growing, the usual approaches to work and communication between people during work are being replaced by new ones, everything that can be automated is automated.
If earlier it was possible to work according to the same standards for decades, habitually performing the same functions within the framework of your position, now approaches to work can change dramatically more than once a year.
Employers now especially appreciate people who easily and without unnecessary sighs adapt to any changes, quickly master new rules and technologies. Even more valuable are those who are able to notice new useful trends before others and offer to use them in their work, without waiting for such an indication to come from above.
In conditions when many specialized professional knowledge is rapidly becoming obsolete and replaced with new ones, it is not possession of this unique knowledge and experience that comes to the fore, but something else. What is this?
These are basic skills that are absolutely important for any field. In English, the term “soft skills” has been established for them, which is why they are also often called soft or flexible in our country.
Any modern work function is a set of the “soft” skills most necessary for it, plus specialized knowledge (“hard” skills or hard skills). More and more often, “soft” skills come to the fore compared to specialized knowledge, because the latter quickly become obsolete and easier to teach them from scratch a person with suitable “soft” skills than to retrain a professional who does not have the necessary “soft” skills.
Soft skills are, for example, logical and critical thinking, creativity, the ability to build relationships with people, adaptability to change, and so on. Trite? Alas, few people have the necessary “banal” set to a sufficient degree.
What “soft” skills do employers appreciate right now and will value even more
According to the report of the World Economic Forum The “future of jobs” , by 2020, the ten most valuable “soft” skills for employers will look like this:
- Ability to solve complex problems;
- Critical thinking;
- People management skill;
- Skill of successful interaction with people;
- Emotional intelligence;
- Ability to draw conclusions and make decisions;
- Customer focus;
- Negotiation skills;
- The ability to quickly and easily learn new things.
Irina Shishkina, a process and project management consultant and head of the Creative Consulting Studio “Not Just an Idea,” names digital management as the main professional skills, that is, the ability to manage processes using gadgets and software. Also, according to her observations, the ability to analyze data and use the tools to visualize them to visually represent the collected information and their ideas is appreciated.
In addition, Irina advises developing emotional intelligence, creative thinking that allows you to look for different solutions for the same problem (this is called divergent thinking), and intercultural communication skills. The latter are necessary to successfully build professional relationships in teams with a diverse composition.
Soft skills for specific professions
The above “soft” skills are important for any modern profession. But each specific profession also has a certain set of “soft” skills.
So, according to the results of the above-mentioned study, HeadHunter and Microsoft identified the following “soft” skills:
For marketers: the ability to analyze and interpret large amounts of data, act in multitasking mode, think systemically, have managerial qualities and creativity, and have developed communication skills.
For HR-specialists: the same skills as for marketers (because they need to be able to promote the image of the employer and “sell” vacancies to candidates), and moreover, the art of networking, the ability to motivate people and involve them in work processes.
For analysts: accuracy, attentiveness, flexible thinking, the ability to work with large amounts of data in a short time, presentation skills and the ability to visualize data, the ability to work in a team and adaptability.
For developers: systemic, rational thinking, a flexible mind, accuracy, the desire for constant self-learning and the desire to share new knowledge with colleagues, teamwork and conflict-free thinking, project thinking.
For process engineers: organizational skills and focus on results, skills to work with standards and norms – which means accuracy and attentiveness, the ability to find and process the necessary information. Communicating with customers, internal or external, requires communication skills and the ability to capture a task, even if the customer cannot formulate it in a technical language.
How to find out which “soft” skills you have developed and which ones need attention
If you trust the opinion of colleagues and are not afraid to hear the truth about yourself, which may turn out to be unexpected and not too pleasant for you, you can ask them how strong you are or, conversely, are weak in certain skills. Another way is to contact a career counseling specialist.
Another option is to get tested. Including for this, detailed, serious career guidance tests are suitable. They are usually focused just on identifying the most highly developed “soft” skills, and on this basis they select the most suitable professional field in which these abilities are most useful.