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Do you have any of these universal job skills?

By Ana Isabel Alonsagay

Perhaps you’re entering the workforce as a newly-grad, working your way up the ladder, or simply aiming to future-proof your career. When it comes to professional development, keeping atop the latest skill demands ensures you a competitive edge on the job market.

Australia’s unemployment rate has generally kept to low numbers (sitting at 5.1% in February of 2020, a fall from 5.3% in the previous month); though recent times have seen much economic struggle, with these statistics expected to soar. 

In light of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, businesses have begun shutting their doors and leaving workers in fear of potential cutbacks. As Australians fight to keep their careers afloat, maintaining universally-sought, transferable skillsets have never been more crucial

Crisis or not - below are five universal job skills valuable to any workplace, keeping you in-demand as a job-seeking or growing professional.

1. Communication skills (both verbal and in writing).

Communication is everything, and it’s no different in business. Having top-notch communication skills helps one effectively listen, advise, and empathise with those around them; building trust and solid work relationships. 

Every job involves working with others to some extent – whether it’s your boss, co-workers, vendors, and customers. Verbal communication and body language is thus critical to getting your message across in a clear, concise, and productive manner. 

Though it’s estimated that three in four people suffer from “speech anxiety”, skills in public speaking can help you stand out from the rest. These prove valuable in workplace meetings, giving presentations, and liaising with potential clients.

Writing proficiencies are just as vital. With much of our communication taking place online – whether through e-mail, messaging apps, or social media – the ability to write ideas with clarity and flawless grammar is a must. As stated by Andrea Kay, author of Life’s a B**ch and Then You Change Careers, “Clear writing demonstrates clear thinking”

Having sound knowledge of e-mail etiquette also helps you come across as professional, and positively represents your business online.

2. Collaborative skills.

collaboration concept

Going hand-in-hand with communication abilities, collaboration skills boost your value as a productive, team-oriented employee

The skillset is crucial across positions; from interns, to entry-level workers, to executive-level managers. The ability to get along well with your peers, assist those in need and respect others’ ideas helps foster a workplace culture of harmony, support, and diversity.

In a recent survey of 350 executives across nine industries, the World Economic Forum (WEF) found “emotional intelligence” and “coordination with others” to be among the top-most desired employee traits for businesses. 

Though technology is set to take over nearly three million Australian jobs; human interaction and understanding remains irreplaceable. Employers continue to seek those with a strong awareness of others’ reactions, are adept at reading emotions, and are sensitive to the needs of their peers. 

Strong collaboration skills can also lend themselves to effective leadership – another highly in-demand trait among workers. The ability to coordinate others through projects and everyday operations shows your striking ability to contribute to business efficiency, keeping you ahead of the job market curb. 

3. Critical thinking and creativity.

Along with emotional intelligence and social coordination, critical thinking and creativity are among the vital skills needed to retain a “human touch” in the workplace. As mentioned, such soft skills are irreplaceable by automation or machines, and thus boost the employability of any worker. 

Even tech revolutionaries like Elon Musk foresee a near future when technology can start programming itself – and in that case, businesses and jobs must shift their focus to exclusively-human skillsets and interaction to continue thriving

Creativity landed among WEF’s top three in-demand skills – as creative workers will continue fostering new, innovative concepts amidst an economic landscape of constant change and development. With new technologies constantly emerging, such workers are also required to apply this tech in new product and service creation.

The skill intertwines with critical thinking and analysis; while machines can help us identify patterns and gather data, humans are required to analyse and conceive new ideas from such information. The ability to problem-solve can also help you make sound decisions in times of crisis or with everyday obstacles.

WEF recent report predicts that 36% of all jobs (across all industries) will require complex problem-solving skills as a core, mandatory skillset in 2020.

4. Computer skills.

computer skills concept

As a society reliant on technology, basic computer skills are a crucial requirement for any job, regardless of industry.

Recent Australian statistics forecast that 90% of the our workforce will require digital skills within the next couple of years – spanning across fields from administration and booking to carpentry and electrical work. 

Such skills don’t necessarily involve complex, technical abilities to configure and program technologies (though these are a definite bonus) – but workers must familiarise themselves with basic software, cybersecurity, and communication platforms. The ability to care for and maintain computer equipment is also crucial, helping alleviate any technical or hardware issues.

With basic computer literacy, employees can flatten the learning curve when training themselves on new company technology (i.e. retail POS systems or a business’ project management software), saving hours on productivity.

Being computer-literate also improves your efficiency, with the ability to leverage programs to organise data or automate specific tasks. Additionally, the skillset boosts customer and peer communication, with a plethora of online social tools that allow for instantaneous, remote contact.

5. Agility and adaptability.

Finally, valuable workers know how to leverage unforeseen change to spur productive business growth.

Favoured by global executives, the ability to stay agile and adapt to an ever-evolving market landscape demonstrates your proactiveness, open-mindedness, and resilience as an employee. Staying stagnant benefits no business; both employers and their teams must work together to foster progress, keep up with industry developments, and cater to dynamic customer demands.

Riding the tides of change and new ideas keeps companies (and individual professionals) relevant and competitive on the market.

Agile, adaptable employees possess all aforementioned traits on this list: strong communication skills for listening to and responding to recent demands, collaborative and creative abilities to maintain productivity (amidst an unpredictable landscape), and sound computer skills to leverage the right digital tools in the process.

Such traits also make you a more flexible worker in the face of company changes. Employers will always favour those who embrace new systems – this demonstrates the ever-desired “can-do” attitude, compared to those who prefer staying rigid in tradition. 

Future-proof your career with these in-demand skills.

Whether you’re stepping into the workforce for the first time, or climbing your way up the ladder – these universal abilities offer an instant boost in employability. Don’t let your resume lag behind; tapping into these human-centric soft skills and building your digital competencies will not only maintain your value as a worker – but ensure you a bright, sustainable career path ahead. 
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