The impact of tech means that soft skills are more important than ever – which means that skills you already have may be more useful than you realized. While all skills need update, there are certain core soft skills that can transfer from one role to the next and have a lasting impact over time.As technology transforms organizations, skill needs are changing rapidly, and companies are struggling to find the talent they need. ManpowerGroup's report — Robots Need Not Apply: Human Solutions in the Skills Revolution— surveyed 20,000 employers across 42 countries on the impact of automation, and found that soft skills that are of greatest value are the hardest to find.Developing soft skills can have an immediate and long-term impact on your career. The soft skills employers want most are communication, collaboration and problem solving, according to ManpowerGroup’s 2018 Talent Shortage Survey.When considering professional development, here are soft skills that everyone should add or refine in their repertoire.CreativityOne of the ways to differentiate yourself is to become the person known for generating the greatest and most creative ideas for problem solving. This process shouldn’t be viewed as another thing to add to an already over-scheduled day but viewed as a means to create a competitive advantage. Follow this model for producing ideas to make the creative process more accessible.PresenceIn terms of communications skills, a sense of presence includes the gravitas of how you behave or act, how you speak and how you present yourself. These are skills that can be learned and developed. Seeking coaching and solid skill building in personal career management can guide and support leaders in building executive presence in a way that compels people to follow you, which increases your ability to collaborate.LearnabilityNew problems will arise as the digital landscape continues to change how we work. In order to meet these new challenges, learnability is necessary. Learnability is the desire and ability to continually learn and grow throughout careers. Ask yourself, when was the last time you read something from an unusual perspective? When have you taken the time to wrap your head around a new industry? When have you engaged in conversation on a subject outside your comfort zone? To keep your learnability skill sharp, take the time to find unfamiliar topics and dig beneath the surface.For those wishing to move up in their career, soft skills are critical. Even though they’re not the skills added to a resume, they undergird and complement all other abilities. Embrace them, and they’ll continue to benefit you throughout a career.
Why Soft Skills Are It
How You Can Step Up to Meet The Skills Gap
Nearly half of employers today say they can’t find the skills they need, according to ManpowerGroup research. This shortage presents an opportunity for employees and job seekers, who can step into new roles with the right approach. Here’s how to cultivate a career move using the strategies aligning with how organizations are finding talent.Build: Grow from withinOrganizations are developing talent in-house, which means opportunities to expand roles into new areas. Employers are emphasizing that continuous learning is essential for individuals to keep growing in their roles, and better grow with the organization. For employees, this requires embracing learnability and a growth mindset. The role that you find yourself in an organization may be very different tomorrow than it is today.Buy: Sell your skillsIt’s a simple law of supply and demand. Due to the shortage, employers are attracting employees with competitive wages, perks or other benefits will allow organizations to buy talent. Those who are looking to make a move now have better options at different organizations. To maximize marketability, job seekers can work on selling themselves through means of their resume, LinkedIn, networking and applying for new roles.Borrow: Lend your talentThe “side hustle” is becoming both a resume builder and supply of extra income for the next generation. Both workers and organizations are increasingly turning to flexible employment opportunities including part-time, freelance, contract and temporary workers. As organizations cultivate workers inside and outside of the company, employees can take advantage of the gig economy by fitting into flexible opportunities.Bounce: Make the leapBouncing can mean leaping up in an organization. In today’s changing landscape, agility is needed to consider how someone’s skills can be moved around inside the same organization, or in another role in a new company. For employees, this means identifying their adjacent skills to see how they can adapt to new roles.Today’s organizations are building, buying, borrowing and bouncing talent to fit their needs. If employees are aware of these trends, they can take advantage and accelerate their careers.
Mastering Soft Skills In The Workplace
Soft skills pay. The ability to project manage, relate to colleagues, speak in public and other human skills will be consistently relevant over time. Over 4 in 10 employers say critical thinking and analysis skills are their most valued human strengths, followed by creativity & originality and resilience & adaptablity skills according to the global Talent Shortage Survey. These soft skills will help your career both in the short and long term. Whether you are looking for a job or want to move up, mastering the soft skills will help. Here’s how to polish these necessary elements. Nurture your Creative Side One of the ways to differentiate yourself is to become the person known for generating the greatest and most creative ideas. This process shouldn’t be viewed as another thing to add to an already over-scheduled day, but viewed as a means to create a competitive advantage. Be Accountable You can measure your progress by meeting with your manager and asking to keep you accountable for your soft skill growth. For example, you may ask your manager to rate you on your leadership ability before and after you join committees at work. Having this external measure at the end of a development cycle will help keep you motivated and accountable. Practice Learnability New problems will arise as the digital landscape continues to change how we work. In order to meet these new challenges, learnability is necessary. Learnability is the desire and ability to continually learn and grow throughout careers. Ask yourself, when was the last time you read something from an unusual perspective? When have you taken the time to wrap your head around a new industry? To keep your learnability skill sharp, take the time to find unfamiliar topics and dig beneath the surface. Finally, go back to the beginning when you checked all these boxes. Mastering soft skills isn’t a one-time task. Keep going.
Kindness as a Skill Advantage
This personal virtue is more than simply something to remember around the holidays, however. Research also shows that kindness can also offer competitive advantages for your career. Here are reasons –beyond just being a good person –to increase your kindness.Effective leaders are likeableKindness is a leadership trait. Those who reach high levels in an organization don’t get there by being cold and difficult. In a survey of 51,836 leaders, a tiny percentage –just one in every 2,000 –were rated at the bottom quartile in terms of likability but in the top quartile in terms of overall leadership effectiveness. Be kind and likable to be a leader.Kindness is linked to creativityCreativity is a competitive edge for employees, and it doesn’t happen by accident. Multiple studies show that “respectfully engaging with other organizational members can augment creativity for individuals and teams.” Being kind to your colleagues – or what researchers call “respectful engagement” – is related to creative behavior at both the individual and team levels. Creativity, in turn, is a crucial soft skill that will help keep you relevant as the world of work changes. Your reputation is your resumeKindness isn’t just a one-time act. Over time, how you treat others builds a reputation. A way to develop a bad reputation at work is to take credit for another person’s work and being difficult to work with. Giving credit where it is due, recognizing others and being kind will become an extension of your resume. Kindness attracts othersThe easiest way to turn off an employer? Being a jerk. Even entrepreneurs who have had a history of bluntness and difficulty have had a change of heart about the effectiveness of being a kinder person. As Mark Cuban admitted, "people hate dealing with people who are jerks," Cuban wrote in a 2014 Entrepreneur article.Kindness is its own reward – but it also can provide more. Be kind, and you might also be hired and be promoted.
How to Nurture & Grow Your Soft Skills
The path to so-called “hard skills” is often clear: Get a degree or certification and you’re suddenly qualified with a new line on your resume. Then there are less clear milestones such as learning to plan a long-term project, negotiate with clients or give a clear presentation. Fortunately, there are concrete ways to cultivate soft skills for the Skills Revolution.Start with specificsMany New Year’s Resolutions fail because they are too ambiguous, such as the goal of getting in shape. What, specifically, do you want? At work, make a list of potential soft skills you need such as interpersonal communication, leadership and personal branding. Then drill down to make it specific. For example, focus on interpersonal skills in a specific way by providing written feedback for colleagues in project meetings.Don’t do too much too soonTo go back to the New Year’s Resolution analogy, another pitfall is trying to do it all. Maybe you want to lose weight and travel more, two goals which may cancel each other out. The same is true of soft skills at work. For example, if your goal is to become a dynamic public speaker, you may want to wait on the next goal of providing better interpersonal feedback, which takes a different ability.Make it measurableMeasuring a goal can take the form of both inputs and outputs. If your goal is to improve your leadership throughout your organization, for example, you may make a goal of joining three volunteer committees. That’s an input metric. Then how do you know if you’re making progress through that action? That takes the next step, output metrics.Set accountabilityOutput metrics are often associated with 360s and performance reviews, which play a part in developing your soft skills. But you can also create your own output metrics by meeting with your manager and asking her to keep you accountable. For example, you may ask your manager to rate you on your leadership ability before and after you join three committees at work. Having this external measure at the end of a development cycle will help keep you motivated and accountable.Finally, go back to the beginning when you have finished this cycle. Skills in demand from employers, and your ability to develop these talents are crucial to advancement
Communication Skills Needed in a Digital World
In the tech world, all eyes are on Apple each year as it announces its newest launches and updates to its current line of MacBooks, iPhone and watch. The company has become the epitome of disruptive innovation and how ubiquitous technology has transformed our lives.Yet, there’s something timeless about each Apple launch: A single person standing on stage, telling a story. Today, Apple CEO Tim Cook builds off the legacy of Steve Jobs, who became legendary for his personality and stage presence.The Cook and Jobs presentation skills demonstrate that no matter how digitized we become as a society, there’s always a place for human communication skills – even at the world’s most technologically advanced companies.In fact, the 10 most in demand professional skills in the world reflect the need for human soft skills, including sales representatives and professionals such as project managers and researchers, according to ManpowerGroup’s latest report on the talent shortage.In our increasingly digital world, here are skills that still matter for professionals.Managing Expectations“The future is a concept — it doesn’t exist,” said author and philosopher Alan Watts. For businesses, this ambiguity about the future is more than a thought exercise. It requires understanding how to navigate change when you’re not sure where the changes will come from. Leaders with communication skills will be able to guide others when there is no roadmap. That means making decisions on the fly, the ability to adapt to evolving circumstances, and then sharing your reasoning to others to get them to follow.Delivering InspirationThe artist Michelangelo once said: “Lord, grant that I may always desire more than I can accomplish.” It’s a human – and timeless – quality to seek inspiration and motivation, and look for it in others. You can call it stage presence, charisma or just je ne sais quoi. No matter what “it” is, there is a palpable energy that can come from someone who is an engaging communicator. We share our social orientation in brain circuitry with all other mammals, so this is a deep-seeded biological need that can’t be replaced by technology. Human communication needs the motivation of the human touch, and that will never go away.Suggesting ImprovementImagine your next job performance review is with a robot. You’d get a PDF with all of your deficiencies, delivered to you with cold efficiency, with highlighted sections to work on. Doesn’t sound fun, does it? As much as we dread performance review, human communication helps us become resilient and improve. Others can see our blind spots that we don’t see, and also equip us with coping strategies and teachable skills.Overall, it’s true that digital trends continue to expand and play a larger and larger role in the world of work. But if you’re feeling uneasy or out of place because of technology, the answer may be in thinking more traditionally – and reclaiming your humanity.
How to Work with People Who Aren’t Good at Working with People
Twenty five years after the term “emotional intelligence” was first introduced by academics, thousands of independent scientific studies have highlighted the importance of managing your own and others’ emotions in relation to career success, job performance, entrepreneurship, and leadership.But research suggests that people with low EQ, as emotional intelligence is often called, may not realize what important skills they lack. Indeed, studies have shown that all of us are better at evaluating others’ EQ than judging our own, but this is especially true when we have low EQ: because EQ also includes the capacity for self-knowledge.Although lower EQ people are generally less rewarding to deal with — they are grumpier, more negative, and more erratic than average — there will be many circumstances where we have to deal with low EQ individuals. Given the difficulties this can entail, it may be useful to keep in mind the following, evidence-based recommendations for managing those situations effectively:Be gentleJust because someone is unpleasant doesn’t mean you have to respond with unpleasantness or ostracize them. In fact, you can become a stabilizing and calming agent for low EQ people if you make an effort to act politely and kindly in your interactions with them. Remember that having a lower EQ is psychologically taxing, not just for others but the low EQ individuals themselves. They are often fighting inner demons and riddled with existential angst – the academic euphemism for this is emotional labor. So, don’t make them work even harder. Instead, you can brighten them up and make their lives seem a little simpler, safer, and happier, or at least less anxious. Conversely, if you react in a negative way they will perceive you as a psychological threat and source of stress. Kindness and positivity go a long way with everyone, but even more so with emotionally unintelligent people. Yes, some people lack soft skills, but being hard on them is not the solution. On the contrary, tact and delicacy are needed particularly with those who are less capable of displaying those very qualities.Be explicitIn particular, avoid social subtleties, or you will be misinterpreted. Low EQ individuals are generally less capable of reading between the lines and their ability to decode others’ intentions is typically limited. As Professor Simon Baron-Cohen noted, they are quite similar to the stereotypical engineer or professor: disinterested in nonverbal communication, non-empathetic, and somewhat detached from interpersonal contact; happiest when on their own or interacting with their own thoughts rather than people. Baron-Cohen’s spectrum theory posits that cognitive skills often increase at the expense of social skills (take this brief test to find out where you fall).Be rationalAlthough low EQ people often behave in irrational ways, so does everyone else. Furthermore, the only antidote to emotionality is rationality, which starts by being aware of your own biases, being data-driven, and accepting the possibility that you may be wrong. When dealing with low EQ individuals, remember that they are more likely to fall prey to their own emotions than most people are, so, rather than trying to manipulate them by engaging them emotionally, you can gain their trust by being the voice of reason and developing a reputation for being logical. This will not just enable you to persuade them in the short run, but also influence them in the long run. The main point is that even if emotional persuasion works with them, there are moral reasons for not going down that path.Do not get offendedOne of the common characteristics of emotionally unintelligent individuals is their bluntness. They have low interpersonal sensitivity and find it hard to empathize with others, which is why they may come across as politically incorrect or overly direct. On the upside, this makes them quite transparent. You can usually see right through them and they tend to mean what they say, and say what they mean. The key, then, is not to take things personally. They may not operate within the realm of conventional etiquette, but you can still find a way of dealing with them and helping them deal with you.Finally, remember that just as high EQ is not always a blessing—for example, it says nothing about a person’s reasoning ability, expertise, or ambition – it is not the end of the world if you yourself are the one with low EQ. This may sound odd, because EQ has become a very loaded term today—perhaps even more than IQ. However, there is a bright side to low EQ, and a dark side to high EQ. Low EQ individuals are often more passionate, creative, and self-critical than their higher EQ counterparts. And higher EQ individuals can be complacent, smug, and overly optimistic compared to their low-EQ counterparts.While interventions to boost EQ are often successful, people have limited control over their personalities, and each personality will confer more strengths in some situations than in others. The current enthusiasm about emotional intelligence can obscure the fact that plenty of brilliant and successful people, from Friedrich Nietzsche to Steve Jobs, had lower EQ—and that these people are also capable of rewarding relationships, even with their work colleagues.About the AuthorAs ManpowerGroup's Chief Talent Scientist, Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic is responsible for leading the Center of Excellence for Assessment and Analytics, developing data-driven solutions and insight to create new value for clients and candidates by driving predictable performance. A well-known international expert in business psychology, people analytics and talent management, Chamorro-Premuzic has written 10 books and over 150 scientific papers on the psychology of talent, leadership, innovation and AI.
Tips for Job Searching in 2022
If you are currently looking for work, what are your expectations for your next job? If you find yourself weighted down from the pressure of the past year, here’s how to start making progress and expect more in your job search as you look ahead in 2022.Seek Out a SponsorYou don’t need to go it alone –– look for help in your next steps. According to ManpowerGroup research, women are more likely to say that relationships rather than overt self-promotion will help them get ahead. In this regard, women can be helped through sponsors or those in higher levels who move beyond mentorship and actively help promote female colleagues. Find someone who can help boost you up, and you can do the same for others.Recognize Your Transferable SkillsIf you’ve been out of work, if may feel like you are falling behind on your skills. In fact, you may be practicing transferrable skills that help in the next role. If you find yourself teaching from home or volunteering, these are skills that you can bring up in a job interview that shows your continued growth. Of all transferable skills, learnability is the foundation. Learnability is the desire and ability to continually learn and grow throughout careers, and it still applies even –– and sometimes especially –– outside of work.Gain an 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 hire a professional skill 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 a mentor, coach trusted friend to provide you with feedback on your progress and what steps you need to take next.Don’t Get DiscouragedIn any job search, setbacks are inevitable. Expect that to happen, and don’t get discouraged when it does. Psychologists demonstrate that Three P’s can stunt recovery: Thinking a “failure” is personal (“It’s my fault”), pervasive (“I’m unqualified for any role”) and permanent (“I’ll never find a job.”) If you find these thoughts creeping in, reframe and view it from another perspective – it’s just a single job, it wasn’t the right fit this time, and the right job is still out there. Don’t give up, and keep expecting more.Remembering where your true talent lies will help nurture and grow where you have the most potential, and where you can thrive. Keep using your goals as a north star even in the face of setbacks, and your next step could land the perfect fit.
How Can I Improve My Job Skills?
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 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.