Revealed: The Essential 'Soft' Work Skills For 2019

At this end of the year, many of us are evaluating how the work year has passed, whether we're giving and getting all we can from our jobs and considering if the grass really is greener on the other side of the hill. If you're planning a job or career change in 2019, what are some the things you need to consider? What are the key skills you should develop to open up your horizons?

Until recently, the job market was mainly defined by hard skills - demonstrated competence in specific actions and in the use of particular tools. But what recruiters and candidates are recognising that there are a number of highly regarded transferable skills that are also important. And these are harder to teach than technical skills.

For example, one highly regarded executive in the security industry told me that his business set up a facility in Utah as that's one of the international hubs for genealogy. And the ability to see connections between data points that others might not recognise is a key skill in security analytics. So, instead of purely focussing on math majors, they looked laterally. The rationale was that the right people could pick up the technical skills in a few months but that the analytical skill was far harder to teach.

If you've been working as a manager in one field, your skills in managing budgets, recruitment, project management and negotiation are translatable to other positions. Similarly, if you're a software developer specialising in a specific area then you could make 2019 the year you expand you technical competence in another language and highlight your translatable skills in analysis and problem solving when looking for a new role.

Recruitment agency Hays says the ability to learn - something I've found less common than I expected when I worked as a hiring manager - is critical so a demonstrated track record of personal development is important

Nick Deligiannis, Managing Director of Hays in Australia & New Zealand, says "Given the pace of change, the only thing certain in 2019 is that a jobseeker’s capacity to learn will start to become more valuable than the hard skills they already possess".

Being able to think strategically is also critical. Being able to move easily between a detailed view of a problem and its strategic importance is a skill you can develop and it's one that is increasingly valuable. As agile methodologies move from development teams into other business areas it's important to be able to see where the sprints fit into the business marathon.

Last year, Inc.com published a list of the top 10 skills needed to land a high-paying job. Interestingly, of the ten skills they listed, I'd say six of the ten released directly to how we deal with other people. That's not a skill many workplaces focus on in their training programs.

If you're thinking about a job change, do you think your soft skills are as strong as your hard ones? Could they stand some work?


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