Upskilling and adapting to a fast-changing world of work is the defining challenge of our time. Here’s how you can keep your job skills up to date as the work world evolves. Learning and improving your job skills shouldn’t end after you’re hired. Improving your job skills through learnability is a career-long process. Whether you’re looking to learn a new digital tool, pick up transferable skills or hone your soft skills, you can always keep improving. Here are some tips for going above and beyond.Visit your library One thing successful people have in common: They read. A lot. Whether you crack open a book or listen to an audio version, you can constantly keep learning from the experts in any field. Need somewhere to start? This list will give you books for CEOs, entrepreneurs, history buffs and more. Listen to podcasts You have access to a huge free professional development library on your phone, which can enrich your commute or other downtime. You can listen through Apple podcasts or any podcast listening app like Stitcher, Spotify or Soundcloud. Search for keywords in your industry to find relevant subject matter, or you can even try your own at developing a podcast to help you become an industry thought leader with free tools like Anchor.fm. Talk with your manager Do you know what skills you need to develop? If not, ask. A new employee has a learning journey, and so does someone who has been at the organization for 10 or 20 years. A manager can help employees understand where they are in the learning journey for their career. In the short term and the long run, that benefits everyone. Join industry associations The best industry associations offer many practical benefits including certification, conferences, webinars, networking events and job boards. Industry associations often commission industry research, so members can keep up with trends that are likely to shape the industry. All these benefits are important to anyone looking for a job. Look into joining a recognized industry association to stay current with your job skills. No matter what work you do, continuing education is vital to advancing your career. Employers are looking for candidates with skills and adaptability for this changing environment.
How Can I Improve My Job Skills?
How to Boost Your (and Others’) Emotional Intelligence
Among the various core ingredients of talent and career success, few personal qualities have received more attention in the past decade than emotional intelligence (EQ), the ability to identify and manage your own and others’ emotions. Importantly, unlike most of the competencies that make it into the HR zeitgeist of buzzwords, EQ is no fad.In fact, thousands of academic studies have demonstrated the predictive power of scientific EQ assessments vis-à-vis job performance, leadership potential, entrepreneurship and employability. Moreover, the importance of EQ has been highlighted beyond work-related settings, as higher scores have been associated with relationship success, mental and physical health, and happiness.All this is good news for people with higher EQ. But what can those with lower scores do to improve their intrapersonal and interpersonal skills? Is it possible to increase your own and others’ EQ beyond its natural levels? While Goleman and other popular writers argue that (unlike IQ) EQ is malleable and trainable, EQ is really just a combination of personality traits. Accordingly, it is not set in stone; it is largely heritable, shaped by childhood experiences, and fairly stable over time.This does not mean that the effort put toward sculpting emotionally intelligent behaviors is a waste of time. It simply means that focus and dedication are required. The same goes for helping others to act with EQ when they are not naturally inclined to do so. Here are five critical steps for developing EQ:Turn self-deception into self-awarenessPersonality, and thereby EQ, is composed of two parts: identity (how we see ourselves) and reputation (how others see us). For most people there is a disparity between identity and reputation that can cause them to ignore feedback and derail. Real self-awareness is about achieving a realistic view of one’s strengths and weaknesses and of how those strengths and weaknesses compare to others’. For instance, most people rate their own EQ highly, yet only a minority of those individuals will be rated as emotionally intelligent by others. Turning self-deception into self-awareness will not happen without accurate feedback, the kind that comes from data-based assessments such as a valid personality tests or 360-degree feedback surveys. Such tools are fundamental to help us uncover EQ-related blind spots, not least because other people are generally too polite to give us negative feedback.Turn self-focus into other-focus Paying due attention to others is tantamount to career success. But for those with lower levels of EQ, it’s difficult to see things from others’ perspectives, especially when there is no clear right or wrong way forward. Developing an other-centric approach starts with a basic appreciation and acknowledgement of team members’ individual strengths, weaknesses, and beliefs. Brief but frequent discussions with team members will lead to a more thorough understanding of how to motivate and influence others. Such conversations should inspire ways to create opportunities for collaboration, teamwork, and external networking.Be more rewarding to deal withPeople who are more employable and successful in their career tend to be seen as more rewarding to deal with. Rewarding people tend to be cooperative, friendly, trusting and unselfish. Unrewarding individuals tend to be more guarded and critical; they are willing to speak their minds and disagree openly but can develop a reputation for being argumentative, pessimistic, and confrontational. Although this reputation helps enforce high standards, it’s only a matter of time before it erodes relationships and the support for initiatives that accompany them. It’s important that these individuals ensure an appropriate level of interpersonal contact before tasking someone or asking them for help. Proactively and frequently sharing knowledge and resources without an expectation for reciprocity will go a long way.Control your temper tantrumsPassion and intense enthusiasm can easily cross the line to become moodiness and outright excitability when the pressure’s on. Nobody likes a crybaby. And in the business world, those who become particularly disappointed or discouraged when unanticipated issues arise are viewed as undeserving of a seat at the grown-ups’ table. If you’re one of many people who suffer from too much emotional transparency, reflect on which situations tend to trigger feelings of anger or frustration and monitor your tendency to overreact in the face of setbacks. For example, if you wake up to a bunch of annoying emails, don’t respond immediately — wait until you have time to calm down. Likewise, if someone makes an irritating comment during a meeting, control your reaction and keep calm. While you cannot go from being Woody Allen to being the Dalai Lama, you can avoid stressful situations and inhibit your volatile reactions by detecting your triggers. Start working on tactics that help you become aware of your emotions in real time, not only in terms of how you experience them, but, more important, in terms of how they are being experienced by others.Display humility, even if it’s fakeSometimes it can feel like you’re working on an island managed by six-year-olds. But if you’re the type of person who often thinks, “I’m surrounded by idiots,” then it’s likely that your self-assured behaviors are seen as being arrogant, forceful, and incapable of admitting mistakes. Climbing the organizational ladder requires an extraordinary degree of self-belief, which, up to a certain point, is seen as inspirational. However, the most-effective leaders are the ones who don’t seem to believe their own hype, for they come across as humble. Striking a healthy balance between assertiveness and modesty, demonstrating receptiveness to feedback and the ability to admit one’s mistakes, is one of the most difficult tasks to master. When things go wrong, team members seek confident leadership, but they also hope to be supported and taught with humility as they work to improve the situation. To develop this component of EQ, it is sometimes necessary to fake confidence, and it’s even more important to fake humility. We live in a world that rewards people for hiding their insecurities, but the truth is that it is much more important to hide one’s arrogance. That means swallowing one’s pride, picking and choosing battles, and looking for opportunities to recognize others, even if you feel you are right and others are wrong.While the above recommendations may be hard to follow all the time, you will still benefit if you can adopt them some of the time. Much as with other coaching interventions, the goal here is not to change your personality but to replace counterproductive behaviors with more-adaptive actions — to build new habits that replace toxic tendencies and improve how others perceive you. This is why, when coaching works, it invalidates the results of a personality test: Your default predispositions are no longer evidenced in your behaviors.
How Do You Know What You Are Good At?
As a worker, knowing your skills and talents will help you excel by seeking out and performing in a role that fits your strengths. Knowing yourself requires more than a general sense of intuition about your abilities – it also takes rigorous assessment.The following steps can help you identify what you have to offer.Find out what drives youA majority of millennials say purpose is a priority in their career. This is important to know in assessing, because where there is passion, the drive to succeed, learn and improve follows. Ask yourself what you would do if a paycheck wasn’t on the line. Nurture this curiosity and desire to explore new things, which translates into Learnability, and continual improvement.Identify what’s not workingOn the opposite spectrum, you should identify what you don’t like doing at work, or even if you hate your job. This is likely to be correlated with poor performance. Is the problem to do with your tasks and responsibilities? Or is your low job satisfaction more to do with a difficult boss or coworker? If the problem is your duties, try taking a career assessment questionnaire or seeking out the help of a career consultant. These can help you identify roles in other industries that you may not have considered. If the problem is your boss, you may solve the issue by transitioning to to another department or into another role within the organization.Seek outside perspectiveYou may feel like you know yourself better than anyone else, but you’re not necessarily the most objective evaluator of your own skills. Instead, you can view yourself through the eyes of an employer by taking a professional skills or personality assessment and leverage the results to identify your strengths. Similarly, you can find a career coach to help you better understand your value to employers. Finally, ask your boss, a co-worker, or trusted friend to provide you with feedback.In the end, knowing where you excel – and where you fall short – requires a blend of both introspection and external help and input. Knowing where your true talent lies will help nurture and grow where you have the most potential, and where you can thrive right now.
How To Network Effectively When Working Remotely
Networking doesn’t need to be only in person with coffee, lunches or mixers. With creativity and resolve, connecting meaningfully with others can be done remotely and across geographic and time zone differences. If you’re stuck at home, here are ways to expand and network effectively. Be mindful when selecting a mentorFor many in the next generation, mentorship is key to gaining a foothold for their career and life. A mentor could be someone in proximity in the workplace or at a professional organization. But if the relationship starts out through a digital connection, more thought can be put into the right match, rather than simply convenience. A university alma mater, your current workplace or a professional organization can help match with a mentor that aligns with your interests, needs and personality. Spend time planning who could be your best mentor during this time. Connect with “loose ties” Research has shown that while we rely on our strong ties in our everyday lives, but it’s our weak ties (also called an “open network”) that help make leaps when it comes to finding new roles. Because weak ties are farther removed, they know about opportunities we aren’t likely to know about. By identifying and reaching out to valuable connections that you don’t know as well, you can extend your open network dramatically. Join social groups at workIf the only time you interact with colleagues is on projects and conference calls in meetings, it’s going to be hard to build friendships. Instead, carve out niches for friendship at work by joining social groups, which can also take the form of Teams/ Zoom happy hours, Facebook groups for hobbies and other shared interests. Use reconnection as networking Networking doesn’t always have to take place in person or with people you don’t know. In fact, networking is often more powerful when it’s cumulative, and not just a one-off encounter the first time you meet someone. Networking can also mean reconnecting with former colleagues and sending notes of appreciation, congratulations on work anniversaries, or other virtual ways to stay in touch. Start writing on a blog or LinkedIn article One of the most effective ways to build a network beyond your immediate contacts is to start a professional blog on a topic of your expertise, make connections, show thought leadership and get feedback. Here are tips on how to launch a blog and grow your following.It’s less overwhelming when you start to break down the end goal into smaller, individual parts of a routine. Tackle the above categories one by one, and you’ll be able to build on the momentum of each to accelerate the size of your network.
Recruiting Terms Every Job Seeker Should Know
You get an email from a recruiter wanting to know if you’re interested in an attractive new role for you. However, the email also includes several terms and requirements –and you’re not exactly sure what they mean. Use this glossary of recruiting terms to familiarize yourself with terminology that you may hear in career-related conversations.AssessmentBefore moving forward with an interview or offer, a recruiter may ask you to take an assessment. What makes you valuable? And what distinguishes you from your peers? Essentially, what is your value proposition? To answer any of these questions, you first have to assess your strengths through assessment. Today, there is a plethora of online tools at your fingertips to help you assess your skills and learning style, including your Learnability Quotient. Learnability Quotient (LQ) reflects your desire and ability to grow and adapt to new circumstances and challenges throughout your work life.Soft skillsA recruiter can look at your resume, but knowing what soft skills it doesn’t necessarily reflect can be just as valuable to placing you in a new role. These are all just some of the personal attributes that indicate a high level of emotional and personal intelligence, also known as soft skills. They include communicating, critical thinking, meeting deadlines, being well-organized, collaborating and the ability to analyze and innovate. Employers are seeking these skills more than ever as they are broadly applicable across job titles, industries and changing times. Soft skills can also be developed and grown.ExpectationsIt’s common for a recruiter to ask about your salary expectations. But expectations for a new role may go beyond money, including what kind of career coaching ar offered for employees. To succeed in today’s workforce, you need to continue learning and growing your skills. Successful companies recognize that they also play a part in building successful careers, which benefits them in the long run. Start a career conversation by letting them know that you understand your success translates into their success.When a recruiter first makes contact with you, it’s important to open the lines of communication. Make sure you both understand what is being discussed. If you’re not clear about anything, make sure to ask. It’s best to do that at the beginning of the process.
Planning for Job Change
Will this new year bring another transition for you? Here are strategies and skills to help you during potential career transitions in the coming year. Assess your goals A new year can be an opportunity to assess what you want out of work and your life, including perks like flexible scheduling or remote work. Rather than immediately falling into a job search, evaluate your last or current job: What aspects did you like or dislike? Is it time to make a change? Where do you want to go next? Is entrepreneurship an option? Create a life map of where you would like to be in three to five years. Feeling like you have more control over the situation will lessen your perception of stress. Manage your timeSearching for a job is more than a full-time job. Sometimes it feels like you can’t keep up, and other times it feels like all you do is wait. It can help with peace of mind to set aside times to actively search, to write follow-ups, and even to wait guilt-free. Don’t let the job search take up your entire life. Set incremental goalsA new role or career may be your ultimate goal, and achieving that end can sometimes feel overwhelming. To help you get there, set incremental and smaller steps to achieve. You can also pick up freelance work, consulting, contract jobs or even volunteer positions. This part-time or temporary work can help pay bills or bolster your resume while your searching for a permanent job. Don’t overlook these opportunities while continuing to pursue full-time work. Finally, remember that whenever you are feeling overwhelmed or like you have lost control of the process, take a break. Go for a walk or perform an activity that you enjoy.You need downtime to help maintain your mental health, and you can always resume again later.
How to Reframe Career Gaps
For the first time in more than a decade, a single historical event has affected millions of careers at once. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted not just jobs lost, but also career trajectories for those who were expecting to move up in their organizations or find new responsibilities.The good news is that the large-scale change in work situations has helped change how employers think about “career gaps” on the resume. It’s no longer just about taking a step back in a career –– it can also be seen as stepping up to help families and communities. As a result, LinkedIn has updated profile options to elevate “stay at home parent” roles or sabbaticals for family leave. Here are other ways job candidates can rethink and reframe their job gaps, especially in light of the COVID-19 impact. Become a mentor You can continue to show leadership skills beyond a job title, such as signing on to be a mentor for an organization or an advisor to a start-up. If you want to be a mentor, finding the right mentee is a lot like the other side of the equation. Network and talk to key people in your company or network about the type of person you want to be a mentor to, and be specific. You can also check with your alma mater about alumni/student mentoring programs you can join. Becoming a mentor can be a valuable addition to your experience and resume.Keep improving job skillsThere are no shortage of ways to re-skill and upskill with online education and courses, and not having a full-time job can provide more opportunity for growth in soft skills. This includes communicating, critical thinking, meeting deadlines, being well-organized, collaborating and the ability to analyze and innovate. Employers are seeking these skills more than ever as they are broadly applicable across job titles.Step into volunteer rolesConsider volunteer roles that add expertise and knowledge to your tool kit. Use volunteering as an opportunity to try something new, perhaps a career you always wanted to explore. You may find it as exciting as you dreamed, or it may lack the glamour or fulfillment you envisioned. Follow your passion – when you are giving back to something you believe, it is much easier to learn new skills.Ultimately, employers will be much more understanding of gaps in your resume during this past year, given the circumstances. At the same time, this is an opportunity to keep learning and growing –– and find what you really want to do in your career.
Why Having the Right Soft Skills is Essential
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, soft skills had been growing in demand to fill new roles that complement automation and new kinds of work. Today, that acceleration has only magnified the need for businesses to hire for, train and cultivate the right kind of skills among their workforces.According to new ManpowerGroup research, a K-shaped, two-speed recovery is emerging. Some industries and people are bouncing back faster and better – those in growth sectors and with high demand skills –while others are at risk of falling further behind. By 2025, humans and machines will split work-related tasks 50-50, while 97 million new jobs will emerge in AI, the Green economy and Care economy.1As the workforce moves quickly into a new chapter in the digital era, here are soft skills that employers today need most.Collaboration, communication and teamworkDrawing on multiple people’s talents from diverse backgrounds is the best way to foster the creativity and innovation needed to find solutions to today’s complex challenges. This includes the soft skills of being able to connect people between a variety of styles, generations and work environments. And, as the business environment becomes more complex and flexible work arrangements continue, effective communication skills will be even more essential. The collaborative nature of leaders and workers will be able to add value and glue together disparate elements to create more than the sum of their parts.Critical thinking and analysisComputers can generate big data. Spreadsheets can help analyze numbers. Machines can help automate responses and generate outcomes. But at the end of the day, humans are still needed to see the big picture, communicate effectively, incorporate data, feedback and insights to solve problems and make sound decisions. When there isn’t always a clear road map, the ability to think holistically and consider long-term implications is essential.Leadership and influenceWith uncertainty the norm, organizations need employees who can effectively navigate challenging environments, motivate teams and produce results. That is why transparency, resilience, and optimism are such essential traits of today’s leader.While automation is augmenting work, effective teamwork and collaboration among humans will only increase in importance. A leader must, therefore, possess the interpersonal skills to guide and motivate teams to deliver results even in the midst of change and ambiguity.Having the right soft skills will be even more essential as organizations transform and digitize at speed and scale. The biggest challenge, however, will be to bring all people on this transformation so that nobody is left behind.Download the report,Skills Revolution Reboot: The 3Rs - Renew, Reskill, Redeployfor more insights on today’s soft skills and how to assess for them.1 The Future of Jobs Report 2020. World Economic Forum, October 2020.
Searching for Jobs After College
Moving from college to the workplace traditionally requires major adjustments, including acquiring new skills on the job and learning to balance independent projects. Right now, economic and public health uncertainty only adds to the stress on college graduates. But stepping back, slowing down and taking concrete steps can help mitigate anxieties and improve your outlook. Here are ways to help navigate the unchartered waters. Build a mentor relationship In college, students can easily stop by a professor’s office hours or book an appointment with your academic advisor or job counselor. The same principles of mentorship are just as important to getting started in the workplace. After you graduate, you have to be more proactive about securing your own mentor. Having a mentor will enable you to learn what employers expect from new grads and you can use the information to make yourself job ready, and also help find new opportunities in sectors that are hiring. Take a skills inventory Does your resume reflect all that you are capable of accomplishing? Make sure that you reflect not just your major and hard skills, but also soft skills like learnability that shows you can make adjustments during turbulent periods. Research from ManpowerGroup has concluded that 65% of the jobs Generation Z will perform do not even exist yet, and right now is certainly a time of disruption and change. Show how your past has prepared you for a future that is evolving and being invented in front of us. Be open to new forms of work Look beyond the full-time permanent roles. In some sectors, hiring is ramping up right now for temporary or short-term work. Taking a temporary job to help meet demand may provide an in to a company, or an end in itself. Today, nearly 9 in 10 workers are open to NextGen work– part-time, contingent, contract, freelance or temporary. As younger workers bring tech-savvy skills to the workplace, new graduates can turn to flexible employment opportunities where it is needed most. Reach out to help others Right now, it’s easy to develop tunnel vision with respect to your own needs. No one will blame you for that. But many others are going through the same uncertainty, and seeking ways to help is not a zero-sum game. Over time, how you treat others builds a reputation. Recognizing others need assistance, offering to be of service through small acts like proofing someone else’s resume or sending an email with encouragement will become an extension of your resume. Do it for its own reward, and it’s likely to help deepen and expand your network as well. After years of being in the school system, it will take new grads time to transition to a new world –– and that’s never been true more than now. For college graduates, it’s important to be patient, keep being productive where you can be, and keep the faith.
Developing a Career Roadmap for Your Future
Having a plan for your career was important before the pandemic – and it’s even more critical now as companies are adapting and accelerating changes throughout their organizations. Do you know where you are headed? Below are steps you can take to develop a plan for the next months, years or decades of their careers.Know your skills and strengthsFirst, take a skills inventory to know your strengths and where they could apply in the future. Many soft skills like communication, creativity and leadership that helped you in a previous or current role can be transferred to future opportunities. To help with this process, use an outside resource that can help spot hidden strengths. The SkillsInSight tool, for example, is a free and short assessment that you can take to receive immediate feedback on what your personality traits say about your strengths and opportunities in the workforce. Have career conversationsThe organization you work for should seek to help you on your journey, whether that means developing hard skills or soft skills to take the next leap. Schedule conversations with your manager to discuss how they can assist. You can also check with your HR department to see what virtual tools or career growth classes they may offer, or if they provide tuition remission or other assistance to take ongoing education. Make your goals and plans known to those in the organization so they can help you succeed.Know your career optionsDo you want to seek out a new responsibility in your organization, and redeploy new skills to help colleagues? Or do you have an eye on a new kind of role in a different organization? Or are you excited to explore new emerging digital jobs that may not even exist yet? In any event, do research to see what options may exist in your immediate vicinity or beyond, and consider how they fit your short- and long-term career goals.No matter where you are in your career, taking the time to consider what you really want is an important strategy amid an ongoing crisis. Start planning today, and you give yourself the opportunity to reach where you really want to find yourself in the future.