The Top In-Demand Skills Employers Are Seeking
The COVID-19 pandemic changed how we work—forever.
In fact, a 2021 report by McKinsey found that the pandemic accelerated existing trends in remote work, e-commerce, and automation, with as many as 25 percent more workers needing to switch occupations than before the pandemic.
However, experts say employers aren’t just looking for employees with technical skills. Rather, there’s a need for workers to have critical soft skills too—they type of skills that machines often cannot replicate. In his new book, Future Skills: The 20 Skills and Competencies Everyone Needs to Succeed in a Digital World, Bernard Marr highlights some of the top skills that will be in demand by employers in the next 10 years.
Digital literacy refers to the ability to find, evaluate, and communicate digital content.
“These skills involve the ability to use devices, software, and apps safely and with confidence,” Marr says.
And it’s a skill that, according to Marr, will be essential within the next 10 years.
“People with strong digital literacy skills can communicate and collaborate easily using digital tools, and they keep on top of new technologies and understand how they might impact their job and their business,” he explains.
For businesses, data is king. It helps organizations make informed decisions, improve upon products, and reach core audiences. Employees who are data literate are valuable assets to the team.
“In the average business context, data literacy means being able to access appropriate data and work with it confidently,” Marr says. “To cultivate data literacy, working on extracting meaning from data and communicating data-based insights to others. With data literacy, you’ll also be able to question the integrity and validity of any data you are working with rather than just blindly following the information you are given.”
Emotional intelligence is the ability to effectively control and communicate your emotions. It’s a soft skill, Marr says, that is highly in demand in the workforce.
“An emotionally intelligent person is aware of how their emotions influence their own behaviors and impact others around them and can manage those emotions accordingly,” Marr says. “I believe empathy – the ability to see the world from someone else’s perspective – is a key component of emotional intelligence.”
TOP 10 MOST IN-DEMAND SKILLS FOR THE NEXT 10 YEARS
Curiosity and Continuous Learning
Next Page: Improving Work Relationships
McKinsey San Francisco office members working with Habitat for Humanity
Work Relationships Are Difficult. But They Don’t Have To Be
Work relationships aren’t easy. But they’re important, especially if you want to be happy in your career. In fact, research shows that successful careers are often heavily dependent on our relationships, both in and out of work.
Gorick Ng, the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Unspoken Rules: Secrets to Starting Your Career Off Right, recently offered tangible steps to building real relationships at work.
“As the son of an immigrant single mother who spent her career working in a sewing factory, I was always told to put my head down and let my hard work speak for itself,” Ng says. “But, after unpacking the differences between professionals who build fulfilling careers from professionals who stumble and don’t know why, I now have a different perspective: In the corporate world, doing your job is only part of your job. The rest comes down to being seen, heard, and known — none of which is possible without strong relationships.”
BREAK THE SILENCE
Awkward silences are inevitable in new relationships. Oftentimes, these uncomfortable silences lead to overthinking. But, Ng says, these uneasy moments can easily be broken and transformed into opportunities for something more real.
“This is the hardest step because it’s the easiest to overthink: Am I bothering this person? A voice in our head asks. What will this person think of me? Another voice wonders. What do I even say? A third voice adds. Before long, doubt sinks in and the opportunity slips away.”
Breaking the silence, Ng says, is all about positioning yourself for an opportunity—and these opportunities are always available in the workplace—whether it’s simply introducing yourself to a new coworker or sitting in a high traffic area within the office.
“These opportunities aren’t just strategies for introverts or shy people,” Ng says. “They are the secrets of the most effective relationship builders. Look around before your next meeting and you’ll soon realize, for example, that the time when some are burying themselves in their phones is also the time when others are sparking relationships.”
SAY “HI” AGAIN
The first “hi” is always the most difficult. But once you’ve overcome that hump, Ng says, it gets easier.
“If you’ve said ‘Hi’ to a stranger, you’ve already overcome the most awkward step — and given yourself permission to say ‘Hi’ again,” Ng says. “This is your chance to transform acquaintances into allies.”
Here are three scenarios, according to Ng, where a second “Hi” can be an opportunity to build further:
Have a moment when you return to your computer? Consider sending an email along the lines of: “Thanks for the fun conversation. Love that we’re both _______. Looking forward to crossing paths again and hopefully working together soon.”
See them in the hallway again? Smile and drop a “Hi again!” and then follow up on whatever you discussed, whether it’s “How was the wedding?” or “How did the presentation go?”
See them in a group call? Message them with a “Nice to see you again” or slip them a private message of encouragement if they fumble over their words.
Read Ng’s full step-by-step guide on building work relationships here.
Next Page: Tips for UNC Kenan-Flagler MBA Essays
Kenan-Flagler flags representing the countries where students hail from
Tips for UNC Kenan-Flagler’s 2022-23 MBA Essays
At the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, empathy and leadership go hand-in-hand. The school seeks out students who can demonstrate their high potential and ability to lead with compassion.
Stacy Blackman, founder of Stacy Blackman Consulting, recently delve into Kenan-Flagler’s 2022-23 essay prompts and offered insight into how applicants can show they’re a perfect fit for the B-school’s tight-knit community.
The first required essay asks applicants the following:
What are your immediate career goals and how will you benefit from earning an MBA at Kenan-Flagler Business School? As the business world continues to evolve, circumstances can change and guide you in a different direction. Should your goals that you provided above not transpire, what other opportunities would you explore? (500 words)
There are two parts to this essay: your primary career goals and your “plan B.” Blackman suggests approaching the essay with a two-step process.
“Knowing yourself is the best first step in this essay,” she says. “What has your career taught you, both in hard skills and soft skills? How have leadership opportunities grown your perspective? Think about the experiences of your work life. And what you have learned about yourself.”
The second step, Blackman says, is to describe your short-term career goals.
“As a program, UNC provides individual career guidance and has a recruiter focus,” she says. “Therefore, realistic career goals help the admissions committee imagine you at UNC. Finally, show a clear link between your career goals and your MBA. What skills will you gain from classes and clubs to bring to your post-MBA job?”
To address the “plan B” portion of the essay prompt, try explaining how your experience can be applied to different goals.
“For example, your Plan A is to work in consulting and then transition to a strategy role at a CPG firm,” Blackman says. “If you cannot land that job, you could look for in-house strategy roles to gain experience. Or, you could work in a different kind of professional services firm such as marketing research. Finally, as long as you focus on the type of work that appeals to you and the roles that fit, you will find the right path.”
The second required essay asks applicants the following:
We all belong to different communities representing various aspects of who we are, including groups we belong to, where we come from, how we think, what we believe, and how we see and experience the world. The process of discovery is strengthened when people with diverse perspectives and life experiences come together to share and learn from one another, negotiate differences, and engage in diplomacy. How do you envision furthering your growth as an inclusive leader as an MBA student and as a business leader? (300 words)
This essay is all about highlighting your ability to lead with empathy. As Blackman says: thoughtful and nuanced leadership is vital to your UNC MBA application.
“That means showing that you are empathetic and understanding,” she explains. “Even if you are not a leader now, you can positively impact the environment. For this essay, consider how your background and communities have shaped your perspective. Reflect on when you have valued diverse perspectives and negotiated differences.”
In addition to highlighting your perspective, you’ll also want to explain how those values will come to life at Kenan-Flagler.
“This Kenan-Flagler application essay is future looking,” Blackman says. “Therefore, it will be useful to have a perspective on what you have learned in the past and how you plan to continue to learn in the future. If you can share an example of a time that you practiced empathetic and diplomatic leadership, or a time that you fell short of your own expectations, that can illuminate where you are now. Then, use your research into the Kenan-Flagler MBA program to inform what you will learn.”