Self-growth is the key to career success no matter what industry you work in. Many businesses offer continuing education to aid their employees in this growth, whether through seminars, training programs, or even education assistance. But if you really want to succeed in your career journey, you need to take the initiative and develop necessary skills on your own time.

But what skills will give you the most “bang for your buck” in terms of relevancy and versatility? Erika Andersen of Harvard Business Review wrote that the best skills are at the intersection of organizational needs and personal satisfaction.

“Given all the ways in which organizations and jobs are changing, figuring out which new skills to develop and when to develop them can be hard. The key is to focus on skills that will propel your organization forward, that play to your strengths, and that you feel passionate about learning.”- Erika Andersen

The pandemic changed the professional world at all levels, and new needs must be accounted for. Regardless of industry, certain soft skills are more important than ever. We’ve looked to various experts and found these soft skills to be the most desired in this new age.

Communication

Communication often comes up as a buzzword, but it is a tricky skill set to develop. Communication covers a wide array of skills, including active listening, public speaking, writing ability, observing, empathy, and providing feedback. So many other soft skills require a foundation based on strong communication skills, making this a great place to start.

Forbes’ William Arruda reminds us that employees are people first. Employees face their own private challenges, and those are even more magnified in today’s troubled times. Knowing how to open a transparent and encouraging dialogue is crucial in connecting with your team, and good communication skills increase morale, productivity, and focus. Good leadership is first built on good communication.

In addition, the remote landscape has changed where communication takes place altogether. With less opportunity for in-person conversation and meetings, leveling up your written communication skills is crucial. ApplyBoard reminds us to use technology to check-in and keep the dialogue going.

“Whether it’s a quick Slack message, an engineering blueprint, or a formal whitepaper, new grads who can communicate key messages clearly and convincingly will see their team thrive.” –ApplyBoard

Problem-solving

Tying back to remote work, working out of the office means you won’t have immediate access to support staff or a direct connection to managers. You’ll often be left to your own devices, paving a need to develop independent problem-solving skills.

In their top-five most in-demand skills for 2022, Star Outico has problem-solving skills as the most frequent subcategory. Four of their top five skills fall under this category, including:

•Analytical thinking and innovation

•Complex problem-solving

•Critical thinking and analysis

•Creativity, originality, and initiative

IT Resources highlights how desirable these traits are to employers, who want well-rounded employees capable of going beyond their job description.

“Employers prefer hiring candidates who show no fear of taking on a challenge. Therefore, when answering questions in your interview, describe how you solved problems. Hiring managers look for innovative solutions rather than a no-brainer.” –IT Resources

Adaptability

The pandemic has thrown a lot at all of us, and the ability to adapt has been necessary at all levels. In terms of our professional lives, adaptability is one of the most sought-after skills by employers. A stable 9-to-5 at the office is a rarity anymore, so those who can thrive in the face of chaos and come out on top are the priority candidates in any industry.

“Whether an employee needs to alter their workload as the business re-staffs or expands, or if the location of their job changes, being adaptable is always an asset. This shows employees that you are willing to roll with the punches to achieve success.” – Michael Page

ApplyBoard deduces adaptability also means being able to cope with not only your own evolving challenges but those of your team as well. Keeping a cool head and being accepting of others’ needs fall under the adaptability umbrella.

Time management

Part of adaptability is knowing how to prioritize your time. With less overhead while working from home, you need to be a master of self-management and time management.

Understanding the needs of your organization and how to prioritize those needs is directly tied to your success. If you have five tasks you need to complete, how do you know which to tackle first? And how do you balance these tasks without becoming overwhelmed?

GrowthSpace’s Sarah Vonnegut discusses the myriad of ways to develop this particular skill, including using software packages, practicing psychological methodologies, or creating simple routines that help.

Wrap up

It always pays to sharpen your skills but choosing what skills to master can often be overwhelming. In the pandemic landscape, soft skills like communication, problem-solving, adaptability, and time management are more important than ever, thanks to new challenges emerging every day. These skills are extremely versatile and can help advance or start your career no matter what field you’re in.

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