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Employers are looking for your workplace skills—we’ll show you what they are and how to build them

Welcome to the start of a brand new Career Chat series! Over these next several weeks, we’ll be discussing high-impact workplace skills and offer tips for developing yours.

Workplace skills, or human skills, describe the way you do your tasks, (as opposed to technical skills, or hard skills, which refer to your ability to do tasks). These are typically the skills that make you the kind of person that other people want to work with—your creativity, your dependability, or your strategic thinking, for example—and are the skills that stand to elevate your work to the next level.

Strong workplace skills can be the difference between a technically good report and an innovative and engaging presentation; or the difference between a serviceable project plan and a resourceful plan of action.

Some workplace skills will come naturally to you, while others may take more effort to master. In fact, you probably already know your strengths and weaknesses. Think about the type of worker you are and the type of work that feels easiest to do. Maybe you’re strategic and collaborative, but struggle with time management.

Luckily, much like technical skills, you can learn workplace skills. Which begs the question:

Which workplace skills should you learn?

Of course, one starting point is to focus on strengthening your weaknesses. Another is to consider the skills that employers are looking for in their employees.

According to the World Economic Forum’s 2023 Future of Jobs Report, these 10 skills are on the rise:

The top 10 skills of 2023, according to the World Economic Forum's Future of Jobs Report are: (1) Analytical thinking; (2) Creative thinking; (3) Resilience, flexibility, and agility; (4) Motivation and self-awareness; (5) Curiosity and lifelong learning; (6) Technological literacy; (7) Dependability and attention-to-detail; (8) Empathy and active listening; (9) Leadership and social influence; and (10) Quality control.

You’ll notice that most of these in-demand skills are workplace skills. As technology and artificial intelligence (AI) shifts the way people use technical skills, workplace skills are becoming increasingly valuable to employers. It’s no longer enough to know how to do something; it’s important to also do it creatively, curiously, or empathetically.

Consider, for example, the number-one skill on the list: analytical thinking. Logical reasoning and decision-making are tasks that are less likely to be taken over by AI because they require strategy, reflection, and big-picture thinking. Third on the list is resilience, flexibility, and agility—another skill that humans are better positioned to harness because AI can’t quite adapt to changing conditions as gracefully as we can (at least, not yet).

Throughout this series, we’re going to take a closer look at several of these high-impact workplace skills, thinking about how they may show up in the workplace and how you can fine-tune your skills in your everyday life.

A peek at what’s to come

Learn more about the top skills of 2023, or start exploring the three most in-demand skills today:

  1. Analytical thinking: Exploring and Producing Data for Business Decision Making from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  2. Creative thinking: Creative Thinking: Techniques and Tools for Success from Imperial College London (this one is free!)
  3. Resilience, flexibility, and agility: Positive Psychology: Resilience Skills from the University of Pennsylvania

Which workplace skills are you most eager to hone? Let us know in the comments and we’ll be sure to highlight them in this series. Next week, we’ll start at the top of the list with analytical thinking. See you then!



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