Thanks to the exponential advancement of technology and innovation, we now have new roles and career paths that hadn’t existed a decade ago, yet are now mainstream. Some startups even encourage candidates to suggest a role they desire instead of applying to predefined roles. The enhanced diversity of career opportunities also drove universities to add new curriculums and offer more flexible options to their students.
As lucky as we are to be able to benefit from such trends, there are also growing demands on employees who wish to remain successful. Now we rarely see roles that are pigeonholed into one narrow set of responsibilities; most roles require some level of versatility and well-roundedness to advance.
So what are some of the most critical skills you should have as you enter the workforce?
1. Data Analytics
Every part of any business nowadays relies on data. Evidence-based decisions are critical to remain competitive as customer needs and market conditions evolve and pivot rapidly and frequently. The ability to identify metrics to track and analyze the collected data is absolutely crucial as you will lead the company in the wrong direction if you are not able to gather the right insights from the available data. Bad data can be costly for the company and yourself. Your reputation will be tainted from the data blunder. Even if it’s not explicitly in your job description, data analytics is now a necessary part of any role especially if you want to succeed or climb up to leadership.
If you are in marketing, you need to know what traffic data is telling you about customer engagement. If you are in software development, you need to know what the customer behavior data is telling you about the released features. If you are in HR, you need to know what the productivity data is telling you about how the company’s human assets are being utilized. There’s no escaping the omnipresent, omnipotent data no matter how much you want to fight it. If this makes you queasy, consider bravely confronting your fears by pursuing data analytics education so you can be confident about your candidacy in any interview.
Communications and other soft skills have always been important. However, storytelling has become even more crucial in the world of information overload. Being able to communicate effectively to your team and other stakeholders every day is going to make or break your reputation. The ability to present compelling arguments will help you obtain approval and funding for your projects. Effective communications is also an important people management tool. Today, public speaking is a basic requirement for hiring and career advancement. You need to be able to create and deliver clear messages. Mastery of data visualization (e.g., graphs, charts, etc.) and digital storytelling will give you an advantage as it takes more than just pretty words to hold onto people’s attention nowadays.
3. Change Management
Change management has been a hot topic for the past decade. With the rush to constantly innovate, many organizations are suffering from change fatigue. There are org changes, product launches and strategic deviations that happen daily in many corporate environments. Despite that, 70% of org transformation programs fail. Change management is crucial to business survival; it is the only way to ensure innovation efforts actually produce valuable outcomes.
Change management is a strategic approach to executing org-wide changes to ensure that the people, tools and processes all adapt and innovate. It’s not a skill per se but to become a great change management agent, you need to master the skills of project management. Project management, a simple organizational technique to mobilize the right resources (people and tools) at the right time, is part of every job even if you are not in a consulting or in-house strategy role. This is why corporations hire ex-consultants to run various parts of their operations. With change always happening, everyone in the company is working on one or more projects at a time. Thus, having project management knowledge will go a long way.