Technical skills get a lot of glory in the workforce. These job skills help employees navigate and elevate their companies' systems for the betterment of the organization and the industry.
But take a look at any job description and you'll find requests for nontechnical skills like etiquette, communication, and leadership—skills that aren't unique to any job but that nonetheless make for a good employee. Even as technology pervades every industry, these nontechnical—or "soft"—job skills are as important now than they ever were.
Soft skills for the job market.
A recent Cengage and Morning Consult survey demonstrates the value of nontechnical skills in the digital age. Higher ed students, the study argues, are worried that technology will eventually replace all jobs. But employers say they shouldn't be: 88 percent of employers who responded to the survey look for applicants with strong problem-solving and interpersonal skills, even as they adopt new technologies.
Technology is very much part of the workplace, and its influence will only increase. But human skills—such as communication, listening, and critical thinking—will always be in strong demand to make the technology work effectively for the organization. To best prepare for the workplace of the future, workers need a mix of technical and nontechnical skills.
The right combination of skills.
So you know that technological know-how and nontechnical savvy are equally important. How do you figure out where your strengths lie and how you can leverage those strengths to grow and develop your career? And what skills—hard and soft—are employers looking for?
A recent LinkedIn survey found that the top in-demand hard skills include cloud computing, artificial intelligence, analytical reasoning, and people management. The most in-demand soft skills included creativity, persuasion, collaboration, adaptability, and time management.
It's understandable that creativity tops the list of in-demand soft skills; as computer systems, networks, programs, and applications evolve, companies need individuals who adapt to and innovate through changing times. People who can think critically and creatively about technology's role in the workplace and can come up with fresh ideas about how technology can benefit the organization will have a leg up on the market.
If you're willing to grow, adapt, and learn, you're already a few steps ahead.
Growing your skills—and your job prospects.
Employers know that it's important to challenge their employees and offer opportunities to grow. About 72 percent of companies offer some sort of professional development, Forbes says, up 18 percent since 2014.
Employees are continually looking for ways to grow personally and professionally, and on-the-job training is definitely a perk. Another way to take your soft skills to the next level is by continuing your education. And if you're looking to advance your career or grow your skill set while you're working, online education can provide the flexibility and affordability you need to develop technical and nontechnical skills on your own time.
Online education isn't just for the tech-savvy, either. To complete an online program, you need soft skills, such as a strong work ethic, good listening skills, and solid communication skills. These are the traits that help you collaborate with colleagues as you learn the technical aspects of your future career.
Be proud of your soft skills and the experience it took to acquire them. They are vital towards ensuring a long and vibrant career.