One of our key learnings was that, nowadays, having the capability to do a specific job is not enough: skills that were once considered ‘nice-to-have’s now make the difference between getting that dream job or not.
So, what do companies want today? Well, it’s not what you might expect. The knowledge acquired from a good education is important, but it’s not enough without the soft skills – such as flexibility, communication skills, and cultural awareness – that encourage the creativity and adaptability essential in today’s globalized workplace.
One trend in recruitment and talent acquisition stood out above the rest: the shift from an exclusive focus on hard skills to a more nuanced demand for soft skills that complement the business competencies acquired through education. Popular business leaders and recruiters explain that, while a business education demonstrates a candidate’s competence and capacity for the job, employers are looking for more. They place increasing emphasis on the soft skills and life experiences that complement a potential employee’s education and tangible skills. These include having the social skills to be able to integrate smoothly into a company’s existing team, and the global knowledge and cultural understanding to relate to clients from around the world. Being people-oriented, as well as service-oriented, is key in the fast-moving business world of today.
Companies are looking for employee flexibility as a response to the constantly evolving and increasingly globalized business world. New roles and tasks are developing rapidly, and a candidate should have the ability to take on new roles and adapt effortlessly to changing circumstances and needs. Jobs are no longer rigidly defined; roles are fluid in order to encourage people to contribute to a broader team dynamic.
Flexible prospective employees who can take on more responsibilities and do a wide variety of tasks have more to offer an employer than those who can only do one or two. These are the candidates who will get the job.
It’s not enough just to ‘think outside the box but we should forget about the box completely. Creativity, critical thinking, and sense-making are all highly prized soft skills in today’s business environment. Computational thinking has been replaced by novel and adaptive thinking. Companies want people to think autonomously and to come up with new and innovative ways of doing things. Independent thinking also ensures that a team can function without relying on one individual which increases productivity and innovation to ultimately increase revenue.
Being able to communicate effectively and apply cultural understanding are invaluable skills. They are paramount when coordinating with others in a team dynamic where there are sure to be people from all over the world working together. As businesses become increasingly globalized, it is inevitable that you will be working alongside people who have vastly different cultural backgrounds, ways of communicating, and language skills.
Having developed yourself by traveling, studying abroad or cultural or language exchanges is highly favorable and shows employers that you possess the skills to effectively communicate with a diverse set of people.
Technology is changing business dramatically. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are already being used to do repetitive and complex tasks that require, for example, computing and calculation skills.
With AI being introduced in the workplace, skills related to programming, big data, and data analysis have also seen an increase in desirability. The ability to analyze and apply data is in high demand. Having a strong base of knowledge, competence to work with the latest technology will always be highly valued by employers. This is where learnability comes into play. People need to continue updating and developing their skills as the business environment changes.
So, how to develop the right skills? The essential soft skills that companies now require can be developed in a variety of ways. Communicating with people from different cultures and backgrounds, or even choosing to live in a foreign country, will broaden your worldview, enhance your people skills, and hone your intellectual curiosity.
Skills like flexibility and creative thinking are improved when you step out of your comfort zone or place yourself in real-world situations where these skills can be practiced and polished. These situations will also allow you to become more mature and understanding, deepening your emotional intelligence.
At EDU Effective Business School we pride ourselves on preparing our students for the business world today, equipping them with the skills needed to build a successful career in their chosen industry.
The diverse EDU student community contributes to cultural awareness and a global perspective through networking. Our students also learn to think creatively and adapt to change by teaching real business scenarios. We also introduce students to some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs in our student platform, which provides a unique learning experience and advice to help them in the future.
These experiences should be emphasized in your CV and cover letter when applying for a job to demonstrate your adaptability, willingness to accept new experiences, and understanding of different cultures.