8 Soft Skills to Develop in 2022 as a Dream Candidate
A lot has changed in the way professionals approach jobs and careers. The 40-hour workweek and 9-to-5 workdays have become redundant. People no longer spend a majority of their working lives with a single organization but change jobs frequently and even try out new career paths. Talent speaks in today’s business world, with domain-specific skills and capabilities such as data science, machine learning, and digital marketing in great demand.
But while there is an evolution in the ‘hard’ skills required by the market, there is also a renewed focus on the softer skills. This became more apparent during pandemic-induced lockdowns, when the lack of physical in-office interactions led to a growing demand for soft skills in the workforce. This trend will continue, with the uncertainty around future outbreaks of COVID-19 variants and many organizations adopting permanent remote/hybrid work models.
As a professional, your long-term interests are best served by adapting to these changing times – and the best way is to acquire the most in-demand soft skills. Doing so can help you excel, regardless of your career path.
So, without further ado, here are the top soft skills that can help you navigate your professional trajectory better and accelerate your professional growth:
1. Analytical Thinking and Problem Solving
Whether you want to be a software engineer, business analyst, data scientist, or digital marketer, analytical thinking is a non-negotiable requirement for the job role. Why? Because, the ability to think critically about a challenge is integral to problem-solving – another skill essential in today’s business landscape, where trends and dynamics can change overnight. Having these soft skills as part of your professional arsenal can help you differentiate yourself as a high-value talent and improve the chances of achieving long-term success and career growth.
Typically associated with artists, writers, and designers, creativity is just as important in less artistic jobs. Today’s digital economy would not have been possible without creative thinkers like Frank Canova, hailed as the inventor of smartphones, or Hedy Lamarr and George Antheil, who designed a frequency-hopping system that was the precursor of modern communications systems such as Bluetooth, WiFi, and GPS.
A ‘creative’ mindset enables you to evaluate known and unknown challenges from unconventional perspectives, allowing you to come up with solutions that may be more efficient, relevant, and adaptable than solutions of a strictly logical nature. Possessing such a skill can set you apart in a competitive jobs landscape and establish you as an ‘in-demand’ talent.
3. Communication Skills
No matter what your job is, good communication skill is essential to performing your role well in today’s workplaces that are more global and complex – more so in the wake of the pandemic – than before. Recruiters, as a result, are looking for employees who can communicate effectively, whether orally or in written form, and work well in teams. As a new-age professional, having good communication skills is essential to expressing yourself clearly in reports or proposals while also bringing more value to the table during brainstorming sessions and team meetings.
4. Design Thinking
Design thinking is the process of unlocking innovation, based on the idea that the products and services we use aren’t static. Companies seek out professionals equipped with a design thinking mindset to solve unmet and, often, unstated consumer needs in novel ways. The concept has become mainstream in recent years and is even a part of India’s ambitious National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. Developing this new-age soft skill can unlock several new, lucrative career paths for you in sectors as diverse as aerospace, consumer electronics, BFSI, and automobile, apart from equipping you with the capabilities that you need to succeed in the role.
5. Data Literacy and Decision-making
Today’s businesses have to deal with massive quantities of information every day. This has made individual and collective decision-making more complicated than ever, with companies needing to balance conventional decisions such as financial planning with newer considerations such as ESG, equitable opportunities, and diversity. More importantly, the time to decision has reduced drastically, requiring professionals and companies to make decisions on a dynamic, near-instant basis for optimal results.
Little wonder, then, that decision-making ability and data literacy have emerged as two of the most important soft skills required by employers. Having the ability to analyze a situation and the relevant information, quickly and clearly, before using them to make the most optimal decisions can be a major factor in any hiring decision.
6. Empathy and Social Skills
With the world in the grips of an unprecedented pandemic, soft social skills such as empathy and compassion have become essential for any professional working as part of a team – so much so that many organizations have deployed empathy training for employees in management roles. The reasons are obvious; according to a global survey conducted during the pandemic, nearly half of all respondents said that their mental health had declined, while almost two-thirds reported a higher level of anxiety.
This is why, regardless of your experience level, to function and succeed in an organization today, you must have social skills such as empathy and compassion to complement your technical skills. Understanding and acknowledging people’s feelings and motives, whether customers, business partners, or team members, can help you for deeper, more meaningful relationships that can help in aligning synergies towards a common goal.
7. Executive Function
Given that organizations are increasingly moving towards developing leadership talent within their ranks, executive functions skills – such as planning, organizing, adaptable thinking, self-monitoring, and excellent working memory – have become essential for new-age professionals. Not only do they help you manage the ambiguity and complexity associated with unfamiliar situations but also allow you to operate more efficiently and effectively in any scenario, positioning you amongst the prime candidates for internal promotions and leadership roles.
8. Giving and Receiving Feedback
Providing and receiving feedback is an important skill for anyone in a leadership position, but it can also be a useful tool for professionals who want to improve their individual and team performance. Communicating feedback clearly and constructively is essential, especially if you wish to achieve the desired results in a collaborative atmosphere. Similarly, receiving feedback positively allows you to improve your performance, reflect on your actions, and identify the areas that need improvement.
In a nutshell, as a candidate, you are expected to possess a combination of multiple skills to stand out and thrive in the current job market. Technical skills are all-important, yes, but having these in-demand soft skills will give you a definitive edge and help you mark yourself as one of the top candidates at your dream job!
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