In 2016 the World Economic Forum conducted a massive survey, they asked 350 executives across 9 industries in 15 different countries on how they saw the future of the workforce taking shape by 2020 led by the technological advancements happening and supposed to happen (ie the rise of Artificial Intelligence).
When I heard about it at the time, 4 years seem like a long time away but in a few weeks we are only 1 year away from their predictions and from what we have seen with the changes in the job market and the requirements of jobs I see many of their predictions already coming true.
So how does this impact you? Hard skills are important and will always be important but the goal of many of the advancements in technology is to replace hard skills so the need for what we as humans bring to the table increases in importance. And what do we bring to the table that technology can’t?
So what are those skills that you should focus on selling and developing? Here are the top 5 as outlined by the study but also ones that I have personally seen as a Career Professional and previous Recruiter:
1. Complex Problem Solving
Before the internet and globalization, problems were fairly simple to solve. Especially since work environments were incredibly traditional with a large rule book that gave employees an answer or at least a framework to handle any problem that came their way.
With advancing technology, many competing markets and the increasing tendency of companies to throw out their rule books comes a need for individuals who can look at problems from many different angles to assess solutions and their impacts. As we rely more and more on technology and data, the greater the need for humans to work through those problems.
I’ve spoken about creativity a lot. When I’m talking to hiring managers this is definitely one of the top skills that I have seen grow in importance since 2016. The funny thing is that creativity used to be a “dirty” word in the business world, a skill reserved for artists and tolerated in marketing. But finance, operations? No thank you was the old way of viewing it.
Not anymore. With the goal to outsmart and outlast the competition, traditional ways of doing business just doesn’t cut it anymore. Pushing boundaries of how we structure an organization, create processes and handle all the data allows an organization to get ahead.
Leadership has always had a place in the workplace but typically in the form of Management. And anyone can be a manager. But only few are what we call “natural leaders”. A natural leader is someone who inspires and empowers their team. They mentor and groom them to become the best version of themselves, even if that means losing them to another team and company, as a true leader is not selfish.
The ability as a leader to recognize and hire “top talent” in order build “high performing teams” that collaborate as a unit to be innovative leading to superior results is of utmost importance to organizations right now in order to compete at the level required to win in today’s market.
4. Critical Thought
Starting in 2015 I really noticed an increase in this skill making the list of what a hiring manager wants. Especially in roles that have traditionally been very process oriented, no longer did they want someone who could put their head down and just follow the steps blindly to get the job done. Now they want someone who is continuously applying critical thought to each and every situation – is this the best way to handle the issue? Is there anyone who should be brought into the decision making?
Essentially, companies want someone who also takes a big picture look at the process to ensure that it is the most efficient way to completing the work.
5. Emotional Intelligence
To put it plainly – with the rise of Artificial Intelligence comes the need for increased Emotional Intelligence in employees. It is what makes us different, it is our superpower and differentiating factor.
Our ability to read other people, to understand how our roles and decisions have an impact on others and how that all ties to together these are things that robots just can’t do.
Now that you know what the skills are, you need to know where you need to focus on:
1. Skill Development – improving your soft skills is hard but not impossible. Pick your weakest and work on that.
2. Sell yourself – figure out how to make sure the decision makers know you have these skills, selling yourself is hard but it doesn’t have to be awkward.
3. Promote your skills – through networking, on your social media channels and obviously if you are looking in your marketing documents (resume and cover letter!).
Do you want to brainstorm how to do the above? Set up a Discover Your Career strategy call and let’s get you set to succeed today and tomorrow.
I remember my first day at my first job out of school, an IT recruiter in a recruitment agency in downtown Toronto. I came home that evening and said to my aunt (I was living with her at the time) that it was a good first day but that I don’t know how I’ll be able to last out the year. That was my plan when I took the job, work for 1 year before trying to get a corporate HR job.
Well I lasted that 1 year. In fact I was there for 4 years and I was laid off. I didn’t leave of my own accord. And I’m still working through the why. I was so unhappy and there were times where I did a halfhearted job search but there was always one reason or another that kept me stuck in that job I hated. And yes there were the practical reasons – job stability, money, career progression but honestly I used those reasons as excuses to ignore the things that I was telling myself. That I wasn’t good enough, that I didn’t have time or that I was afraid.
And I know I’m not alone. Throughout my 15 years of experience I have heard many “practical reasons” for staying in a job you hate but upon digging there is always an underlying negative voice that is the real reason. Today I want to talk about the six most common, I’m sure if you are stuck that at least one of these will resonate with you.
1. It’s too late for me.
You have finished your degree, you have had kids, you are over 40, you are close to retirement. You feel that your ship has sailed and that since it is too late that you need to suck it up and be thankful for the job you do have.
Can I tell you something though – it is never too late to change. So what if you have been a teacher for 15 years or just completed a degree in Engineering or only have 5 years left until you are retiring. YOU STILL HAVE TIME. I have clients that are 55 years old and who are done with the jobs that they hate. They want to spend their last years in the workforce doing something they love not something that they are just tolerating. I have clients who have done complete 180s in the career because they realized they had been pursuing someone else’s dream – their parents, society’s and that it is time to start going after their own dreams.
My message to you: YOU STILL HAVE TIME.
2. I am afraid
Change is scary. The unknown is terrifying. The thought of failure is enough to have you quaking in your boots. So you stay, you may say to yourself that there is no guarantee, that the grass is always greener or the whole “devil you know”, all excuses to allow you to succumb to your fear.
Which is exactly what it wants you to do. Our brains don’t like change and fear is the voice that helps keep us in check. So we listen to it because at the end of the day we don’t want it yelling at us. We may think that it is all well and good for other people, that they are different, that they aren’t fearful.
But let me let you in on a secret. We all have fear talking to us, yelling at us to stop. I know fear has a starring role in my life most of the time, not letting it get in my way of joy in my life and career is a constant struggle.
Fear never goes away. That would be like saying we can completely eliminate happiness, sadness or anger from our lives. It just doesn’t happen. But we can change how we respond and react to fear. I know for me, I recognize when fear starts talking. And I calmly welcome it and tell it that no matter what it says that it isn’t going to get in the way of me moving forward. The key is to recognize it because fear is sneaky and it can wear many masks, so you have to be careful!
My message to you: you can’t be brave without fear
3. I am not good enough
Being in a job you hate pulls us into a negative whirlwind of thoughts. The star of the show is typically that you are not worth it, you can’t do it, that you are not good enough or deserving of a job you love.
This thought is like the heaviest of weights we add to our shoulders that we must carry throughout all aspects of our lives. Meaning that it is a dangerous thought, one that has negative impacts. It slows us down on any sort of forward progress, it drains us of all energy and gets in the way of enjoying not just your career and job but your life.
If this is you then surrounding yourself with people who value you, you build you up and who believe in you is a good first step. Finding a cheerleader to stand in your corner, to help lessen the load and to remind you of your worth is key.
My message to you: you are worth it.
4. I don’t have time
Life is busy. Commuting 2+ hours, working 10+ hours, trying to fit in our life obligations (family, friends, etc) leaves us barely enough time to sleep never mind time to figure out what we want and to go after it.
One question I have for those who don’t have time (and a question I often ask myself), is why are you so busy? Overworking and busyness is often a tactic that we use to distract ourselves from our feelings of dissatisfaction, uneasiness and unhappiness. Kind of like emotional eating or shopping or scrolling endlessly through social media – working too many hours may be a coping mechanism that you have so that you don’t have to deal with those feelings.
If that is the case, stop it. Feel those feelings, figure out the thoughts behind those feelings and stop allowing yourself to procrastinate moving towards career happiness by working long hours. Make a commitment to work 30 minutes less each day, 30 minutes that’s it! That is 2.5 hours per week that you can devote to you and your career dreams!
My message to you: carve out some time
5. I’m too stressed
This ties in with the above, when life is busy it often causes us to feel stressed out and overwhelmed so it feel easier to just ignore those feelings and to stay stuck.
I understand, the thought of adding one thing to your growing and never shrinking To Do List is just too overwhelming. It feels impossible, even if it is for something you want.
But we can’t stay stressed forever and when you hate your job that stress is only ever going to get worse. And take it from me, it begins to suffocate you. You feel like you are drowning and that there is no way to be saved.
There is though. Take a mental health day and focus only on you, not on your to do list. And don’t even think about a new job, only focus on how you can reduce your stress load. Like I spoke about on a recent Discover Your Career Q&A – write down all of your problems, brainstorm all types of solutions and then pick one thing. That is it. That momentum will be enough to get you moving.
My message to you: Do 1 thing to reduce stress and start living your life.
6. I don’t know what I want
When we are stuck in jobs we hate, with bills to pay, mouths to feed and constant messages from family, friends and society about what our careers should look like, it can be really hard to know what we want.
Think back to high school, what was the message you heard? I know for me, at my high school, there were only a few career options that were ever discussed. A trade if you didn’t do too well in school, a teacher if you liked school, a lawyer or doctor if you were smart and maybe business in some capacity. 5 career options, that’s it.
But that isn’t the world we are in, especially now with careers that didn’t exist before and the internet allowing us to create niche jobs that you couldn’t otherwise create. So the world is literally your oyster.
There are a few things you can do to figure out what your fulfilling career can look like, some simple questions to ask yourself that gives you direction. Figure out some ideas, talk to others in those roles and narrow it down.
My message to you: self discovery is the answer.
My goal is to help you stop telling these stories to yourself and instead replace them with stories that get you moving instead of staying.
So if you find yourself staying in a job you hate because you are telling yourself 1 (or more!) of these 6 things then it might be time to talk to someone.
A free Discover Your Career strategy call is 20-30 minutes long where we talk about where you are now and where you want to go and how to get there. It is an easy 1 thing to do! Email me at email@example.com to schedule yours.
In the competitive world we live in today, kindness can be easily overlooked. Too often to we view our coworkers and management teams as annoyances, competition or people to just put up with. On top of that we gather with those colleagues we do consider friends and tend to gripe and complain. It can turn negative pretty fast.
In honour of Work Kindness Day, I wanted to bring kindness back to the workplace. I'm not one to suggest complete overhauls and I know for myself that never works - it just leads to more feelings of overwhelm. What I do love is the little things that we can do that don't cost us a lot of time, effort or money. Little things like Random Acts of Kindness which is a concept that has taken over the world with children doing it at school and home, with people buying coffees for those in line behind them at the drive thru. I think it is time to take it to where we spend a lot of our time, to the work world with these 20 ideas you can get started with today.
1. Buy a Coffee for someone who looks like they need it.
2. Bring in a sweet treat, like donuts for the office on a Monday or a dreary day.
3. Offer to help someone on a project.
4. Be Positive when others start talking negatively.
5. Invite someone to lunch like a new colleague or someone who eats alone a lot.
6. Buy an Assistant or Receptionist Flowers, they are often treated poorly so deserve a treat.
7. Mentor a new employee, especially a new grad.
8. Brag about someone to your boss.
9. Leave a motivating and kind Post It Note on the bathroom mirror (a la Operation Beautiful)
10. Be interested, ask your colleagues questions about their live outside of work.
11. Smile and Say "Hi" to everyone you pass in the hallway.
12. Put the phone away when talking with colleagues!
13. Be polite, say thank you and your welcome.
14. Hold the door open for people.
15. Remember birthdays and decorate their work-space.
16. Talk to everybody - from the CEO to the cleaning person and security guards.
17. Hand write a thank you note to someone who helped you out.
18. Leave a inspiring quote on a whiteboard.
19. Create a library exchange.
20. Invite someone to join you in completing Random Acts of Kindness.
Sara Curto, Career Management Specialist. Working with you towards Career and Job Search Success.
Dream Career Planner
Click HERE to download