The past couple of years have drastically changed how we live, think, and work. So far, this decade has forced us to adapt, quickly, to isolation and interactions through tools such as Zoom. For many of us, it may have felt as if our careers were suddenly on pause.
After two years of struggling through the pain of muted microphones, pet interruptions, and bad Internet connections, most companies are now taking a hybrid approach to create the “new normal”. As I’ve worked with my clients during this transitional time, it’s opened new possibilities via this new work method. It also highlights how today, more than ever, it is the perfect opportunity to fast-track your career by gaining soft skills that can be used in any job.
First, what are “soft skills”?
Soft skills are qualities that make us uniquely human (and not automated machines). These personal attributes lower stress, improve teamwork, and increase your chance of being promoted. Improving soft skills is the ideal way to grow in your career.
Due to the rapid increase of technology used in the workforce, Deloitte estimates that two-thirds of jobs will require soft skills by 2030. So, what skills are essential to focus on in 2022?
#1 Problem-Solving and Adaptability
The pandemic taught us that change comes quickly. Those who excelled at problem-solving and adapting to new situations were able to work through the transition from office to home with minimal stress. Companies want to hire people who can adapt to a unique situation or problem and come up with solutions for moving forward.
How to hone: Develop a problem-solving process by identifying an issue, determining what caused the issue, and brainstorming multiple solutions. The process should be something you can adapt and repeat in any situation that arises.
All forms of communication are important for leaders; this hasn’t changed in 2022. However, the platforms through which we communicate have. Virtual calls and chat features have increased in the last few years. Misunderstandings occur more frequently with careless communication, making it important to develop your communication skills.
How to hone: Listening to others is the quickest way to improve your communication style. The other person will feel respected, and you will have a better understanding of the conversation before moving forward. When it comes to written communication, take the time to organize your thoughts and always reread before sending.
#3 Leadership Skills
Problem-solving and communication lend themselves to building a strategy and leading a team. Any leader will encounter a variety of personalities, work styles, and skill sets. Having a leadership ability means inspiring a team toward success with your vision and guidance.
How to hone: All soft skills play an important role in making you a good leader but developing a strategy for projects, teams, and long-term goals will set you apart from the rest. A vision helps connect your team and provides confidence in the group.
#4 Self-Management Skills
Managers look for workers who are efficient and productive in their workdays. So, it is essential to be organized and manage your time wisely. Time management helps avoid stress and burnout in times of pressure or increased workloads.
How to hone: Prioritize ruthlessly your ‘To-Do’ list. Determine which of your daily, weekly, and monthly tasks are ‘high’, ‘medium’, or ‘low’ priority. Stick to this list when feeling overwhelmed, it will help you stay on track with your strategy and meet deadlines.
#5 Cognitive Agility
In simple words, this refers to how fast you can learn and adapt your train of thought to the challenges at hand. Those who are strong at these skills can shift their thinking quickly and successfully adapt to the demands of the situation. This skill allows you to solve problems efficiently, learn and adjust to last-minute challenges, and identify new solutions. A proven track record of learning quickly and a cross-functional understanding will take you far in your career.
How to hone: Learn how you learn best. Are you more visual or do you prefer to experience something? Improve your learning skills by listening, reading, and doing. Taking notes on what you are trying to learn will strengthen the connections in your mind and doing the task will give you confidence.
Top five soft skills to fast-track your career
To fast-track your career, you should work on developing these soft skills. Adaptability will help you work through new and unexpected situations. Improving your ability to communicate can help you avoid misunderstandings, while honing your leadership ability will allow you to inspire others towards success.
Time management is crucial to success in today’s modern work environment. Likewise, embracing a continuous learning mindset will transform you into a well-rounded member of any team.
In addition to the tips above, finding a mentor with these skill sets is a great way to learn. Observe their behaviors and ask for advice on improving your skills or meet with them regularly to grow the skills I’ve mentioned today. And of course, if you’d like to get started with someone to guide you, I’m here to help!