Soft skills are in demand. In fact, according to Deloitte Access Economics, soft-skill intensive occupations are expected to account for two-thirds of all jobs by 2030. But why?
Today’s world of work changes rapidly, with digital innovation altering the way we operate, and the jobs and skills in demand constantly evolving. Employers, therefore, look for jobseekers who have the soft skills required to succeed in the face of constant new challenges, from being curious and inquisitive, to having strong communication skills.
Here at Hays we fill over 1,000 jobs every working day. Of these, the following six soft-skills are the most commonly requested:
A willingness to learn
A willingness to learn tops the list of soft skills sought. In fact, my colleague Dirk Hahn quite rightly explains in a blog how, “The ideal employee will be listening to webinars and podcasts on their commute, looking at what the competition is doing, keeping an eye on customer feedback, recommending news articles to their colleagues or creating email alerts for themselves surrounding this topic.”
Regardless of the industry, a willingness to learn and a desire to stay on top of current trends and changes relevant to your profession is valued by employers both large and small. This soft skill goes hand in hand with being self-aware. As changes occur in your industry, gaps in your skills and knowledge emerge. Thus you must have the self-awareness needed to spot any new gaps, and seek to bridge them.
A customer focus
Most businesses are steered by their customers, moreover, the ways in which customer buying patterns evolve. For instance, sports fans will now buy match tickets via a third party app rather than at a stadium box office, holiday makers will go on price comparison sites for the best deal before booking their flights, and jobseekers will apply for roles online. Simply put, technology changes consumer behaviour, and organisations require employees who are in-tune with these changes and suggest new ways for the business to adapt.
An ability to accept and adapt to change is important too because, like it or not, change is part of the modern working world. Whether organisational, technological or skills-based, the jobs we do and the way we do them is and will change again and again. Since we don’t know what those changes will be, employers want people who can move out of their comfort zone and see change as an opportunity for growth and innovation.
Interpersonal and communication skills
It is all well and good learning something new every day and thinking of smart solutions to challenges, but these soft skills get lost if you don’t communicate your knowledge to others. Employers favour jobseekers who possess exceptional communication skills and are comfortable speaking with people at all levels of an organisation in a professional manner.
As our CEO, Alistair Cox, said recently, “I want to hire employees who also have a clear view of the bigger picture, those that have a vision for the future of the business and the industry they are working in and can communicate this to their colleagues and teams.”
Respect for the ideas of others
Yes, an individual must bring ideas to the table and communicate their views effectively but, crucially, they must also respect each other’s ideas. In workplaces that embrace diversity of thought and collaboration, debates sometimes ensue and push people to come up with more innovative solutions to the problem or issue at hand. Employers therefore need employees who can keep the debate on-task and professional, never personal, and who would not put a fellow employee down for speaking her or his mind.
Also important are organisational skills. During turbulent and unpredictable times, budgets will tighten and cost consciousness will remain a focus. Employers therefore look for new recruits who can effectively organise their time to ensure productivity is maximised, deadlines are met, resources are coordinated and no details are missed.
Being ahead of the curve by developing these soft skills will help you stand out to employers, both now and in the future. And when combined with digital literacy and relevant technical skills, a solid soft-skills base will future-proof your career in the years ahead.
About this author
Nick Deligiannis, Managing Director, began working at Hays in 1993 and since then he has held a variety of consulting and management roles across the business. In 2004 he was appointed to the Hays Board of Directors. He was made Managing Director of Australia and New Zealand in 2012.
Prior to joining Hays, he had a background in human resource management and marketing, and has formal qualifications in Psychology.
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