The issue of skill sets usually arises for most people when they’re applying for a new job. While this is an important time to consider your abilities, it certainly shouldn’t be the only point you focus on. After all, your longevity with a business and the progression of your career will depend upon your ability to exhibit outstanding qualities.
As such, it’s worth regularly considering what skills you can cultivate to highlight yourself as an asset. This doesn’t mean to say you should focus entirely on industry or even business-specific skills. After all, your own career needs might alter, and changes can develop unexpectedly — few people before COVID-19 expected they would need to forge remote working qualities. It’s important to pay close attention to reviewing and strengthening abilities that make you valuable no matter what position you’re pursuing.
Important skills at work
Excellent verbal, written, and nonverbal communication standards are often top of the list of abilities that make you an asset to businesses. While these are important, they are also among the absolute minimum you should possess — they won’t make you stand out as an asset. You need to go further, honing skills relevant to a diverse global marketplace. This should include a focus on your intercultural communication abilities.
In essence, this involves interacting with people of varied backgrounds in ways that share, respect, and celebrate the positive differences between them. Your ability to build relationships with people of multiple cultures is both valuable and personally enriching. However, to cultivate these skills, you also need to be aware of the barriers to them. Ethnocentricity or even assuming similarities can stand in the way of impactful communication. You’ll best build and improve by committing to educating yourself on cultural elements. This can include formal courses like language lessons, or just taking time to reach out to different communities to ask questions.
Alongside skills to help you to make personal connections, it’s also vital to understand business operations methods will change, and so too will communications needs. Most recently, we’ve seen a distinct shift toward favouring remote and hybrid operations. You need to build abilities that help to bridge the gap between in-person and distant workers. Seek experiences which expose you to communications challenges, and force you to find novel ways to overcome them.
Today’s business landscape is subject to frequent technological developments. In the last decade alone, multiple industries have begun to explore the potential of artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), automation, and data science. Employees who are willing and able to quickly learn, adapt to, and innovate with new tech tools will always be considered valuable assets.
Your ability to cultivate this digital agility can benefit from in-depth knowledge of information systems management. This doesn’t necessarily mean technology for a specific industry, but rather understanding the principles behind common elements such as software development, database administration, and network security and how they relate to business operations. Information systems management skills give you a firmer grasp on the big picture of a business — recognizing where customer and company needs have to be addressed and how technology can help. It also gives you the knowledge to respond to tech issues all companies regularly face, particularly the threats of cybercrime and data breaches. Your most direct way to cultivate this tends to be through formal educational courses, but you can also look for opportunities to get involved in projects to build information systems in your current workplace.
Alongside hard systems skills, your ability to be digitally agile relies upon your ability to assess technology’s efficacy. You may be able to identify an exciting new tool for a challenge, but if you can’t implement processes to understand whether it’s working and make swift changes when it’s not, you’re likely to disrupt productivity and waste capital. Start gaining experience in change management. This will help you to plan tool implementation, schedule regular tests, and respond in real-time when issues arise.
All businesses involve a great deal of problem-solving. This includes finding solutions on behalf of consumers, navigating operational difficulties, and occasionally dealing with emergencies. Indeed, many of the other skills to help to grow a business today require some form of problem-solving within them. This means you can prove yourself a valuable asset by developing capabilities in this area.
Your first priority is finding opportunities to exercise your creative, outside-of-the-box thinking. This doesn’t necessarily have to revolve around the usual logic puzzles you encounter in employee training situations — although these can help. It’s more about finding real-life opportunities to practice your lateral thinking skills. These can be issues in your everyday life or volunteering for at-work strategic planning. Start honing a solutions-oriented approach, and develop a habit of reflecting on both the way you are approaching problems and trying different approaches.
It’s also important to build familiarity with some of the business tools which aid problem-solving. Increasingly, data analytics is a key to gaining insights into the running and challenges of a company and streamlining processes to help overcome hurdles. Indeed, one of the problems companies can experience is analysis paralysis, becoming overwhelmed by the volume of data in a way that prevents useful interpretation, movement, or growth. As such you should gain some education and experience of more than the technical aspects of data analysis. Develop a flexible mindset to both help you make informed decisions with the data and give you a more creative approach to using it to solve a company’s problems.
The employment landscape is shifting, and you need to make certain your skillset is an asset no matter what sector you’re targeting. Communications, data agility, and problem-solving are all key areas of focus. However, you need to go further than just the basics in these areas; cultivate not just the skills but how best to apply them.