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What will it take to succeed?

success in your career

An ever-changing job market requires you to constantly keep your skills and abilities sharp. You’ve been for the interviews and you know that you can do the job. But the feedback is always the same; someone else was better prepared, had more experience or they have the necessary skills required.

Don’t be overlooked and make sure you stand out from the rest.

According to the World Economic Forum, by the year 2020, over 35% of skills on your CV will have changed. So don’t be one of those skilled workers left behind. Update your skillset by doing a short course to show your current or even future employers that you are serious about your career.

Here are the 10 skills you will need to thrive in any job by 2020:

  1. – Complex Problem Solving – Developed capacities used to solve novel, ill-defined problems in complex, real-world settings.
  2. – Critical Thinking – Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  3. – Creativity – The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
  4. – People Management – Motivating, developing and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.
  5. – Coordinating with Others – Adjusting actions in relation to others’ actions.
  6. – Emotional Intelligence – Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  7. – Judgement and Decision Making – Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  8. – Service Orientation – Actively looking for ways to help people
  9. – Negotiation – Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.
  10. – Cognitive Flexibility – The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.

The benefits of lifelong learning

lifelong learning

Throughout life, we are taught the importance of improvement. From a young age, we would hear our teachers, coaches or parents saying ‘there’s room for improvement’, especially when we lost a match or scored an average mark in a test. Yet, even when we excelled, our superiors would remind us that to stay at the top we needed to continuously invest in our efforts. We can do this through lifelong learning.

This notion does not change when we reach adulthood; if anything, it becomes more significant. As working professionals, we are faced with a lot more competition than back then when we were competing for the school trophy. Now, we are competing against millions of competent, skilful individuals, who are just as deserving as us, to be selected for the ‘dream job’. That’s why to stand out from the crowd we need to be extraordinary.

How to become extraordinary

Today, employers are looking for people who not only come with the relevant qualifications and experience; but whose skills are up-to-date, and are aligned to the present day state of the industry. Organisations are constantly looking for ways to improve productivity and increase profitability, and individuals who are at the forefront of industry advancements are more likely to achieve this objective for them.

To be extraordinary, you need to commit to lifelong learning. Continuously developing your professional skills and expertise will ensure you stay relevant and attractive to organisations – even the one you currently work for. AT&T CEO and Chair, Randall Stephenson recently told the New York Times, “There is a need to retool yourself, and you should not expect to stop. People who do not spend five to ten hours a week learning will obsolete themselves with technology.”

The working world is a cut-throat, competitive environment; where one’s value is continuously questioned. Companies have limited financial resources and plenty of goals and objectives that need to be met. Individuals who lack knowledge of modern tools and techniques, and struggle to display essential technical know-how are not seen as valuable resources. This means individuals who have more to offer are the ones that’ll be hired; the ones that’ll be kept, and the ones that’ll be promoted.

Lifelong learning: an ‘ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated’ pursuit of knowledge.

Three ways you can stay on top of your game:

  1. – Invest in an industry-aligned short course:

    Many well-known universities offer short courses – some even online. Short courses add immense value to one’s CV, and of course ones skill-set. This is because they’re usually created based on the current industry practices, and the content is updated on a regular basis. Short courses are a great way to stay abreast of industry developments and prove that you’re a lifelong learner.

  2. – Attend skill-building workshops and seminars:

    Workshops and seminars are a great way to stay informed of your industries advancements, or updated regulatory requirements. These gatherings can also help you to improve your soft skills, as well as strengthen your network in the field in which you practice.

  3. – Invest in informational content

    Although reading and conducting research on your industry is a great way to stay ahead, it still doesn’t prove that you have invested in your career potential, and strengthening your skills. However, it will enable you to refine your immediate knowledge of the industry, and the general developments taking place currently.

Benefits of lifelong learning

Other than improving your skills and investing in yourself, lifelong learning has the potential to boost your career. The benefits of lifelong learning include:

1. An increased chance of landing a well-paying job
2. Heightened security within your current role (avoid retrenchment)
3. An increased chance of being granted a promotion
4. Broadening your network in your respective industry
5. Being seen as a valuable employee within the organisation, and the industry as a whole

“The day you stop learning is the day you stop living. We should all pick up new skills, ideas, viewpoints, and ways of working every day.”
– Richard Branson

An HR dilemma: hiring the perfect candidate or upskilling an existing employee?

hiring the perfect candidate

As a manager, at some point, you may have thought to yourself  “I have a great performing team, but they lack the level of expertise we require to grow”. In such instances, conducting a skills assessment of your current staff complement can be beneficial. Perhaps you need to hire new employees or upskill existing ones. Upskilling employees is definitely the better way to go as they become greater assets to your organisation.

Conducting a skills gap analysis will not only help you identify these and other imbalances in your company, it will identify current employees with the potential and necessary skills required to fill a role. Recognising potential is key, as an employee may not have all the desired attributes to adequately fill the role, but with some level of upskilling, it’s possible they can become a success. At some point, you will have to answer the question: “Do I choose to hire the perfect candidate or upskill an existing employee?”.

Benefits of upskilling

It can be very beneficial for an organisation to have employees that have the ability to wear many hats. This is especially true in smaller companies, where there may not even be an HR department responsible for the hiring and administration of staff. Having a key employee with formal HR training can also ensure that you are covered for HR-related situations. Another great example would be managers and supervisors who are tasked with recruiting. Often, managers and supervisors are not adept at recruiting as they may not have the necessary training to conduct such a task. Enrol in a course to learn new skills that can help your organisation overcome these issues.

A recent Randstad (2017) study showed that 75% of global respondents feel they need more training and/or education to stay up to date.  71% are looking for more vocational training and 49% for the training of personal skills. The study also showed the disconnect between employers and employees in attitudes towards upskilling. The Randstad study further stated that 80% of companies feel they have a responsibility to upskill but have no plans or programmes in place.

Recognition breeds productivity

Like Uncle Ben said: “With great power comes great responsibility” and this is what employees are seeking. They are not looking to upskill themselves merely to improve their circumstance. An employee that feels engaged is critical to a productive and efficient organisation.

There is the fear that an upskilled employee will at some point recognise that they have a desired or marketable skill, and would want to leave your organisation.  The truth is that this is always a risk but by recognising their potential and investing in them you will inspire loyalty and their long term personal investment in your organisation.