woman coding on laptop, Code First Girls

New skills for a new age – How to make yourself indispensable

woman coding on laptop, Code First Girls

The U.K job market can be a difficult arena to navigate. There used to be a time when job roles would be easier to come by. Gone are the days when recruits would be confident that they could walk into a job at the drop of a hat.

A decline in labour-intensive, skilled roles decades ago led to an increase in white collar workers, as many industries turned towards computing and digitization as the world moved in a more technologically advanced direction.

Whilst that might be the case, there are still a number of learnable skills that employers are looking for within their workforce. It is helpful for you to be aware of these skills before you embark on a search for the role you might be perfect for in the future.

A new era of socially savvy businesses who value people, their opinions, and their skills is reflective of employees’ attitude to having a healthy work-life balance. It’s a little less ‘work hard, play hard’ and more ‘work and play’. And with this development, employers are understanding that the need to help produce well-rounded candidates that have multiple skill levels and cross-functionality for the benefit of their business and their staff turnover. Well-rounded individuals are perfect for sustainably growing a business.

What makes a person’s skill set ‘well-rounded’? Whilst knowledge is important, success in 2020 requires more. More understanding of communication. A greater desire to work collaboratively across functions and an ability to analyze and react. A greater level of experience-based competency. Below are just some of the things that are high on the ‘people’ agenda for businesses in 2020.

Digital familiarity

If it took a little while for digitization to become the norm, stronger, faster internet speeds and smarter technology now has businesses striving for competent, flexible employees that have a core software knowledge that is vaster than simply Microsoft Office and Skype.

Business expansion across a growing number of industries is becoming a digital playground. Companies are looking to hire people who are familiar with a wide range of digital resources, and candidates that have consistently reskilled or kept on top of digital innovations.

Depending on your particular role or current qualifications, digitization could mean any number of things. From the town planner embracing mapping software, to the graphic designer becoming familiar with 3D rendering and animation, there’s always an upward step to take regardless of your job role. And this upward step will make you a more attractive professional proposition.

According to AAT, 38% of U.K businesses consider digitization to be ‘the main evolving force in the workplace today’ and while some people may not consider skilling-up a priority, improving your personal portfolio to add digital skills could be the competitive advantage you need.

Project management

Project management is an important skill because it allows others in the business – usually people leaders – to concentrate on the bigger picture. And it’s always a positive point to employers that you have shown the ability to take control of a project and can show experience of carrying this through to a successful outcome.

Project management involves an array of skills and experience, which is why it is seen as such a positive indicator of quality. From leadership and communication skills, to being able to manage setbacks and complete a project, there are boundless qualities that make a good project manager. You may have these qualities without even realizing.

Most job roles require a level of project management. As the responsibility increases, you’ll find yourself more valuable and less dispensable and you’ll be given greater ways to show your continued worth. To make sure you’re up to the challenge of this, work on forward-planning and leadership competencies, as these are both solid indicators of successful project management skills.

Social media experience

Social media has already seen a huge change since the halcyon days of MySpace and MSN. Yet, the simple facts haven’t changed – social media is a powerful tool for both networking and advertising. Any place where people congregate physically or digitally is ripe for selling, and this is only likely to become more refined the closer people get to technology. The digital marketing format is here to stay.

What does that mean for the global workforce? It means that, as traditional media begins to reinvent itself (T.V and audio, for example) there is plenty of room for employees who have new knowledge and creativity to show their marketing worth more clearly than ever before.

Maybe it was a natural evolution when Facebook moved from text, to image, to video, but experience in writing copy, editing images, and manipulating video gives you a great head-start when working on all forms of social media. This will prove more important in the coming years.

Employers and businesses are always going to be drawn to people who can create traction and buzz through the lowest cost methods, and whilst social media marketing is moving further away from organic reach, new platforms and trends will always provide an opportunity for cheap, far-reaching advertising. Being at the top of your social media game will prove a shrewd decision in the job retention market.

Big Data

Big data is a term given to large amounts of data that can be analyzed and studied to reveal trends, patterns, or opportunities within business and beyond. Employers are looking for people, now more than ever, who can read the data and turn that into valuable information that allows them to get ahead of their competitors. Last year alone, there was a reported 344% increase in data science specialist job roles, with that figure predicted to increase as businesses look to gain a key edge on their rivals.

So, what does this mean for you? Firstly, being able to show proof that you understand and value data as a source of storytelling is a great way of showing your worth. How you do this can vary. Formally retraining is one method but showing your employer that you’re curious and willing to adapt towards fact-based decision-making can lead to you becoming a more valuable talent. Alternatively, simply being in the room for more of these types of conversations will help you grow your understanding of big data use. Learning on the job, but learning early, will make you a resource that is needed for years to come.

About the author

Ben Fielding is a writer for Cyber Security Professionals, who specialise in career development through the cyber industry - something he believes strongly in as the landscape of professional development shifts once again.


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