10 Skills to Thrive in Today's Job Market
Employers are especially looking for soft skills, a study says
Today, jobseekers need an arsenal of expertise, including those curious things that very recently became known as “soft skills.”
Your ability to cuddle a fluffy bunny doesn't qualify as a soft skill, unfortunately. Soft skills are “skills in dealing with and communicating with people effectively,” according to a Merriam-Webster's New Words and Slang submission.
These behavioral competencies are also known as interpersonal or people skills and they are more important than ever in a job market brimming with diploma-sporting jobseekers duking it out a shrunken pool of good jobs.
Even having an in-demand “hard skill” like mechanical engineering is not enough to guarantee you a job offer on its own anymore. Most employers (77 percent) say soft skills are equally important as hard skills, according to a new survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Careerbuilder.
It's fortunate that mastering the following 10 skills will not require you to carve out time and money to go back to school or take an online course. You can practice wherever you go. Try them out at your job, at networking events and even at the dinner table with family or with friends.
3. Problem solving Slim-staffed organizations across the country are sounding the call for crafty thinkers to join their teams. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development offers some sobering data to back this up: Work that requires high-level problem-solving skills, such as management and professional work, are becoming more prevalent, while jobs that involve mid-level critical thinking—nursing, retail, service, craft and trade work – are taking a hit.
4. Self-confidence J.T. O'Donnell, the mastermind behind AOL's Career Luck Project, put it best: “Self-confidence is about impressing the only person that really matters: yourself.” Confidence in yourself comes from within, but it has profound influence over your actions and achievements. To believe you can do something is the first step to actually doing it—a mindset that will help you take on challenges and advance your career.
5. Work ethic Of all the skills on this list, work ethic is the most timeless in that it's been coveted for as long as there have been jobs. What is new is its relative scarcity, especially among the youngest workers, according to recent reports. You can interpret these findings differently, but that doesn't change the fact that the people with the hiring power think this crucial skill is declining. You can use this to your advantage.
6. Working well under pressure “Must work well under pressure” is a common line in many job listings. Even if some job descriptions don't specify this, everyone finds themselves racing to meet a deadline at some point. Having the ability to handle pressure and manage stress will help you overcome inevitable rocky humps in your career path in a stride.
8. Time management “Who wants to look like a fool, walking about with one eye on a check list and the other on a clock?” asked AOL Jobs contributor Erik Sherman. “I do.”
A bit of planning and discipline go a long way in the workplace. You can train yourself to avoid falling prey to the common “planning fallacy,” the tendency to overestimate your abilities and underestimate the time it would take you to complete something, and the hardwired urge to complete smaller, simpler tasks ahead of more time-consuming important ones. Is this difficult to accomplish? Not if you're consistent.