Top skills needed to succeed in the job market

Top 5 Soft Skills You Need to Succeed in Your Career | Career Quest Michigan

Top skills needed to succeed in the job market

Posted: September 28, 2020

When it comes to your career, it’s no surprise that you need several skills in order to achieve success. You can rock the technical—or hard—skills of your job, but there’s more to success than nuts-and-bolts know-how. Another important set of skills you need to succeed are soft skills.

Soft skills are essential in a professional environment; however, they often are hard to learn and harder to teach. While these skills may be difficult to learn and teach, we at Career Quest Learning Centers have found that many Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana students already have several soft skills.

Do you have the top five soft skills you need to succeed in your career? Keep reading to find out!

Soft Skills vs Hard Skills: What’s the Difference?

Both soft and hard skills are necessary to achieve success in your career. While they’re both essential to have, these types of skills are very different.

Tangible, Quantifiable Skills

Hard skills are those that can be taught and measured easily. They can be demonstrated and tested if needed. For example, if you’re working as a medical assistant, you can demonstrate the hard skill of drawing blood on a patient. wise, if you’re studying HVAC, you can demonstrate how to install a heating system.

Hard skills are tangible and quantifiable skills that can be measured.

You May Not See These Skills, But They’re There

Soft skills, on the other hand, aren’t taught as easily. Guidance can be provided on how to properly communicate or manage your time, but soft skills often are achieved in smaller steps. Self reflection by understanding your current skillset and how it can improve are essential for improving these skills.

For example, you can be given guidance on compassion and bedside manner in healthcare or small talk in business, but there’s no straightforward way to teach or measure these types of skills.

1) Communication

Written and verbal communication skills are important in the workplace because they set the foundation for how your supervisors and coworkers see you. They help you build good relationships with your coworkers.

Having strong communication skills can also boost your performance. After all, the give and take of good communication makes sure you’re on the same page as everyone else.

Possessing strong communication skills also means being a good listener. Whether you’re working in the healthcare field and need to listen to patient concerns, the business field and need to be a voice for the department in meetings, or something else, listening to others is a must.

Other ways great communication can benefit you:

  • Presenting
  • Networking
  • Empathy
  • Social skills

One of the best ways to improve your communication skills is to practice public speaking every chance you get. Speak up in class, in the workplace, and even with family and friends.

2) Collaboration

Companies don’t achieve success from just one person’s efforts. They grow when they find employees who are all willing to work together to reach a shared goal.

Employers will look to people who can collaborate to be productive and efficient while also enjoying what they do. A friendly work environment is one that everyone enjoys and helps to attract other talented people to the company. It also strengthens quality of work.

Collaboration may be a combination of working with others to create a project or working with others to find a solution to a problem.

Ways you may experience collaboration in the workplace includes:

  • Team building
  • Accepting feedback
  • Dealing with office issues
  • Respect for diversity

If you want to hone your collaboration skills, start small by lending a hand to a coworker who needs some help.

3) Critical Observation

Information doesn’t mean a lot if you can’t analyze it. You need to look at your facts or data and see if there’s a pattern emerging. Ask yourself the obvious questions and then go further.

Being a critical observer can help your all-around performance at work.

Using your observations, you can make informed decisions on what options you have and which provides the best outcome.

Examples of critical observation include:

  • Logical thinking
  • Adaptability
  • Critical thinking

Companies love people who can see beyond just the numbers. They need people who bring fresh, new ideas to help get a leg up on the competition and to improve the company internally.

4) Problem-Solving

When there is a problem at hand, you can either dwell on it or take action. Initiative and action are what will get you noticed in a positive way.

Know how to adapt and think on your feet and it’ll make you stand out to an employee. Companies rely on their top employees to navigate unexpected problems and find creative solutions.

It’s a good idea to approach your bosses with solutions instead of problems. When an issue comes up, make sure to think about how you can address it before you bring it to your supervisor.

5) Leadership

Even if you don’t currently have a title that implies you’re a leader, that doesn’t mean you’re not! It is important to have confidence in what you do at work. Have a clear vision and use your great communications skills to positively influence your coworkers to get on board with your good ideas.

Your leadership skills will help you gain visibility within your company, which could lead to more opportunities, so don’t be afraid to take on extra projects at work and build a team to help you achieve results. wise, you can be the go-to coworker when issues arise—whether it’s work-related or not.

Employers are always looking for employees with leadership skills because they want to find people who can rise in the ranks of the company as time goes on. However, being a leader is more than just getting people to do what you want.

Try to inspire and help others reach their potential. Think about mentoring another worker. You’ll be a great help to them, and you’ll also learn to manage and motivate.

Put Your Soft Skills to Work with a Rewarding Career

At Career Quest Learning Centers, we know career training is valuable if you want to advance. We also understand the importance of soft skills—and that’s why we teach and talk about them in all our programs.

If you’d to attend a school that cares about your success, contact us today to learn about our online programs in Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio!


The Top 13 Job Skills That Employers Are Looking for in the Future

Top skills needed to succeed in the job market

Make 2021 better than 2020 by improving the job skills employers are looking for as we start the new decade.

As we look ahead to 2021, we know one thing for certain — 2020 turned the work world on its head. With a global pandemic creating and enforcing new strategies to keep the wheels turning, remote work became the norm.

Some companies embraced the remote work model and will keep it full-time, while others hope to get back to on-site work again in 2021.

However, the shift to remote work taught them a lot of lessons about what it takes to make a great employee in the new normal.

If you're looking for a way to set yourself apart from the rest of the candidates out there during your next job search, you need to think beyond your degree and your certifications and toward the top job skills employers want in 2021. 

Most people who apply for a position have the nuts-and-bolts training required to do the job. But many hiring managers agree that it's your soft skills that can put you at the top of the list. That being said, there are some hard skills that can up your employment game as well — especially in the next couple of years.

As you get ready to test the job market in the next year, brush up on these 13 job skills in 2021 that recruiters and hiring managers will be looking for in top candidates. 

1. Continuous learning

The days of getting a job and simply punching in and punching out are over. If you want to get ahead you need to embrace continuous learning. By improving your skill set, whether it's soft skills or hard skills, you boost your chances of improving your career trajectory. 

Employers love to hear that candidates enjoy learning because it's necessary in a business world where change and growth are happening at remarkable speed. Those who don't embrace learning new things will be left behind. 

Skill Tip: Check out online class platforms Udemy or Linkedin Learning to see what they have to offer in your professional field — and don't be afraid to branch out from that, either. If you're a computer programmer who wants to learn project management, great;   if you want to learn design, that's cool, too!

2. Time management

Time management has always been important, but with the acceptance of remote work, it's more important than ever.

That means that your employers have to trust that you can manage your time and get your work done without anyone looking over your shoulder.

In today's age of smartphones, social media, and binge-worthy TV, you need to prove that you can stay on task and on target. 

Skill Tip: Prioritize your tasks for the next day before signing off, putting the biggest, ugliest tasks first if you can. Once you tackle those, the rest will come easy, and you'll stay on target.

3. Decision making

Everybody makes decisions, right? Not exactly. For some people, decision making is excruciating; they struggle to see beyond all the questions: What if we make the wrong choice? Is it worth the investment? Will the team be on board? 

Having the ability to assess the criteria in front of you and come to a conclusive decision on a regular basis, even if you're wrong once in a while, marks you as a person who gets things done. It also shows that you're willing to take risks on occasion — and that's a good thing, too.

Skill Tip: Decision making is more than just an attitude, it is a skill. Grab a copy of former Navy Seal Mark Divine's book, “The Way of the Seal” and look for the chapter on what he calls the PROP decision-making model. It's simple, but it's also bulletproof. 

4. Collaboration

If you think remote work means flying solo, you're probably in for a surprise. Collaboration is alive and well, but it takes a little more conscious effort now. Embracing collaboration and thinking about it proactively as you begin projects shows hiring managers that while you may be working alone in your home, you're still a team player. 

Skill Tip: Learn cross-functionally; while you may not be able to do everything, learning how and why other teams do what they do will help you work together with them on any project with understanding and patience.

5. Emotional intelligence

The ability to stay in tune with your own emotions and the emotions of those around you is more valuable than ever and is why it's an important job skill for 2021.

The days of “leave your problems at the door when logging in to work” are gone.

From acknowledging your own emotions to having empathy for the emotions of your co-workers and clients, emotional intelligence will help you be a “people person” without having to be an extrovert.

Skill Tip: Start by taking an emotional intelligence quiz. Then, once you see the results, look at those areas where you may be lacking. Next, think of someone you know from work or in your personal life who you think excels in that area. 

Talk to them about it and try to learn at least one small trick you can use to increase your EI. 

6. Creativity and resilience

2021 will be a time of change and growth, and that means having creativity can put you in the driver's seat for finding solutions and new ideas that move the needle for your company. Resilience goes hand in hand with creativity. 

Sometimes new ideas don't work right away — or at all — and being able to rebound from a setback with improvements and new ideas shows employers that you will keep their company moving forward. 

Pro Tip: Find some simple things you can do to boost your creativity; sometimes all it takes is a little change in your routine. 

7. Adaptability

Have you noticed that things are changing faster than ever? As technology evolves, we're finding new ways to use it. That means the old “We've always done it this way!” attitude is nothing but dead weight on your career. 

You need to be adaptable to new technology, new collaborations, and new philosophies to succeed in 2021.

Skill Tip: Find books that focus on adaptability in the workplace. Even though it's from 1998, Spencer Johnson's “Who Moved My Cheese” is still a useful read and a good place to start.

8. Change Management

As we've noted above, things are changing faster than ever, and sometimes that can be hard on employees. Having a knack for change management, whether that means handling changes on your own or helping to guide whole teams on new directives, is a great way to make yourself an irreplaceable part of nearly any organization. 

Skill Tip: Take a class or read a book on emotional intelligence because a major part of change management is understanding how changes affect employees on a personal level. Having a strong understanding of EI gives you a big leg up in succeeding.

9. Coaching Mindset

Increasingly, success has less to do with how aggressively you try to boost your own career and more with how you help the people around you. From your bosses to your direct reports, having a coaching mindset means you look to make those around you better. Think about it — who doesn't want to work with (or for) a person that?  

Skill Tip: Think of five people you have worked with, including customers, bosses, or direct reports. What could you have done to help them improve their situations? Then take a few moments to think about how that could have affected your own career. 

10. Project management

Understanding the full scope of your projects and being able to manage them from concept to completion

will be a critical skill in 2021. With the emergence of more remote work, it's harder for management to keep tabs on every project going, so having employees who are skilled at project management makes their lives easier. It also sets you up to help others and possibly move into a management role of your own.

Skill Tip: Make yourself proficient with at least one or two project management systems. Do a little research to see which ones are most popular in your industry. A company that uses Asana, Wrike, Jira, or another system will love seeing that on your resume.

11. Cloud computing

Now we're getting into some more direct skills that can really give you an edge in 2021. The world is moving into the cloud even faster than expected thanks to 2020, and we need people who understand it and can work with it. 

Even if you're not a programmer or engineer, just having a solid understanding of the cloud, how it works, and best practices can keep you ahead of the game.

Skill Tip: Take a quick class on cloud computing, finding one that will cover what is most relevant for your career. You can even find free online courses this one. 

12. Knowledge of new social and digital media

it or not, digital media is running the show these days. If you want to compete in the job market, you need to at least be cognizant of what's out there, how it works, and what kind of audience it enjoys.

We're beyond just , Linkedin, and these days (but don't neglect them!).

While it may be comfortable to stick to what you know and ignore the newcomers, that mindset will leave you and your resume in the dust — especially as we enter the new decade. 

Skill Tip: There are classes out there that you can take to brush up on new media, as well as plenty of articles detailing the complexities of the different social and digital media sites out there. But if you want to save a few dollars and get right to the heart of it, find a college-aged person and ask them what kinds of media they use and how they use them. 

13. Artificial intelligence

It's truly an AI age now. We not only want computers to do work for us, but we also want them to get smarter as they work. Just cloud computing, you may not need to be a top-level expert, but a solid understanding of AI can give you a vital edge in a difficult job market.

Skill Tip: Again, there are free courses out there for the taking. 

Now that you know some of the professional skills and traits you will need to be successful in the new normal, it's time to get to work.

But remember, you don't just have to boost your skills — you have to advertise them.

Update your resume to highlight these top 13 skills in 2021, and then create a killer cover letter that shows just how ready you are for the new year and a new job. 

Need help updating your resume for the new year? Our writers know exactly what hiring managers are looking for. Let them help

This article was updated in December 2020 by the author. 


20 Vital Skills You’ll Need in the Future Workplace

Top skills needed to succeed in the job market

With technology advancing and the world rapidly changing, it’s only logical that the skillsets needed for the jobs of the future are too.

Indeed, as the digital world is growing, soft skills  communication, problem-solving, collaboration and empathy are becoming equally important to – if not more important than – tech-savviness.

As automation, digitalisation and robotisation become more integral within companies, workplace demands are also changing. In fact, the findings of our recent study The Future of Work (PDF), one in three people think that machines could take over their jobs.

So, how can we compete with our android counterparts?

If we want to survive these transitions and secure a place in the future workplace, we need to keep up with changing technologies and meet new work-related demands.

So, what skills will you need to succeed in the workplace in the coming years?

Here are 20 essential skills required for the future workplace.

1. Complex Problem-Solving

Problem-solving is a crucial skill in any context.

With technology steadily becoming more intricate and complex, employees will be required to have the mental flexibility to think outside the box and tackle any issues that may arise.

It’s crucial, then, to sharpen your ability to find solutions to complicated problems in preparation for the future workplace.

2. Critical Thinking

Although we strongly rely on automated technology for some parts of our work, we wouldn’t trust it to make executive decisions for us.

In an automated world, humans will act as thinkers and decision-makers, while machines and AI will contribute to our professional efforts.

Indeed, Leah Weiss, a Stanford lecturer, and a contributor from our CareerAddict study, noted that 'there is no way to replace the critical human components of organisations in the form of emotional intelligence, strategic decision-making, and ethical barometers.’

Therefore, critical thinking will be a crucial skill which will allow you to analyse situations, consider multiple solutions and make your decisions logic and reasoning.

3. Creativity

The world has evolved due to people’s creativity. After all, robots were invented because a human had the idea in the first place!

Writing for the Harvard Business Review, Joseph Pistrui says that jobs that require imagination, creativity and creative analysis are much harder to replace. Indeed, when it comes to intuitive and artistic positions, machines and artificial intelligence cannot measure up to creative demands.

Creativity, then, is essential in order to come up with new technologies, products and services that will drive professional efforts in every industry.

4. Active Learning

Future workers will need to be adaptable to respond to the changes happening around them.

As the workplace evolves, so should your skillset. To do this successfully, you will need to become an active learner and keep up with new developments in your field.

Interestingly, a whopping 93% of people who completed our survey were open to reskilling opportunities. This is an encouraging number which suggests that most people are prepared to retrain and sharpen their existing skills to integrate themselves into the future workplace.

It’s also very ly that companies will facilitate lifelong learning opportunities for their staff to avoid a possible skills gap caused by emerging technologies.

5. Programming

Programming is steadily becoming a common professional skill, especially among the younger workforce. In fact, our study found that Gen Zers take the lead in programming skills compared to other generations.

With computers already holding an integral role within the workplace, the ability to code will prove to be essential. Indeed, programming will enable workers to minimise their time spent on menial tasks by automating them, which will significantly improve their efficiency and productivity levels, too.

6. Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is all about being tuned in to people’s feelings and surroundings. This allows you to navigate different situations, manage behaviour and make decisions that achieve personal results.

In a future setting, this is one of the most critical soft skills to have, especially as a manager or supervisor, since it will allow you to create a positive atmosphere and a dynamic workplace where machines and humans can coexist.

7. Technology Systems Analysis

Mainly, systems analysis involves troubleshooting, redesigning and analysing existing systems – a crucial skill that is required for companies to maintain their performance levels.

As businesses continue to become more and more reliant on machinery and automation, the need for professionals with technological skills and knowledge will surge. Indeed, companies will have an increased demand for people who can upkeep these systems and eliminate operational disruptions.

8. Service Orientation

Being a service-orientated person means that you can anticipate and meet people’s needs and expectations. This is a particularly useful skill if you work in an industry that involves customer service.

However, service orientation can benefit any professional, as it allows them to foresee the future needs of a business, client or team. In other words, you can resolve potential issues and offer solutions to future problems, placing yourself and your company a few steps ahead of others. In a highly competitive economy, this is a must.

9. Negotiation

With automation, AI and machines infiltrating the workplace, social skills will be more important than ever

Negotiating is something that only us humans can do – and do well! Some occupations, however, have allowed us to climb into our shell and let our interpersonal skills decline.

Nonetheless, negotiation, as well as other soft skills, will be even more important in the future, as we will be expected to engage and negotiate with clients, colleagues and managers and take on more active roles.

10. Cognitive Flexibility

Cognitive flexibility describes the ability to think about multiple concepts simultaneously.

In today’s fast-paced world, we’re used to juggling several jobs and multitasking. According to a report by the World Economic Forum (PDF), however, a higher level of cognitive abilities will be required for a wide range of jobs in the future – this includes creativity, problem sensitivity and logical reasoning.

11. Adaptability

In the past, adaptability wasn’t a vital trait for an employee, as software and structures (albeit with slight updates) pretty much stayed the same. In today’s workforce, however, being able to adapt to new situations, programmes and people is incredibly important.

This goes hand in hand with active learning, which will allow you to acclimate to changes and new technologies faster.

Word of advice: don’t get stuck in your ways, because procedures will quickly change!

12. Entrepreneurship

Thinking outside the box and coming up with fresh concepts and designs is a skill that will secure you a job in the next decade.

With machines freeing us from menial and repetitive tasks, we will be able to take on more active roles and pursue our entrepreneurial aspirations. For that, you must possess the ability to think on your feet and run your project, department or business.

If you want to climb the career ladder, don’t settle on one thing; continue to expand your mind by exploring different avenues.

13. Social Intelligence

Social intelligence refers to your ability to connect with others. Beyond basic communication, it allows you to form more profound and meaningful connections through empathy and to navigate social environments with ease.

We may find ourselves relying on technology for logic-based and repetitive tasks, but on matters that require interaction, perception and collaboration, humans will be integral. Therefore, your social intelligence will allow you to thrive within the workplace of the future.

14. New Media Literacy

The word ‘literacy’ is frequently associated with the ability to read and write. However, new media literacy refers to our ability to function within a digital society.

What this entails is the ability to access, analyse, evaluate and create media. Undoubtedly, this crucial for the 21st Century workforce as the world progressively becomes more digitalised.

15. Virtual Collaboration

Remote work options are becoming increasingly common in most businesses. In the future, then, having the ability to collaborate with your virtual team using technology-mediated communication will be a must.

As companies are seeing the benefits of sourcing talent across the world, the virtual workplace is becoming more and more of a reality every day. From meetings and discussions to projects, you will need to be ready to complete your tasks and work with a diverse team on a virtual basis.

16. Innovative Thinking

In a constantly evolving world, innovation has become a primary element that drives businesses forward. So, being able to find ways to reinvent existing systems or create new ones altogether will be a significant advantage for you.

To do this, you’ll need to be able to deduct information, analyse and use data to come up with innovative, new ideas using what’s available to you.

17. Decision-Making

Every business strategy today is data analysis. Having the capability to study said data and make decisions are going to be even more desirable in years to come.

As already discussed, machines are logic-based and operate on repetition, but it’s up to humans to make the right decisions and set their companies apart. If this is an area you want to develop in, there are heaps of tools to help you master your decision-making skills!

18. Coordination

Robots and new machinery are great as they allow us to get on with more exciting duties, but the one thing they haven’t mastered is the ability to coordinate with others.

Coordination requires us to communicate and liaise with others and, in the working world, it’s important to be able to work with colleagues and adjust according to their actions. Essentially, being a strong team player is something that will carry through to the next generation.

19. Leadership

Good leaders determine the success of a business. This will most probably also be true in the future workplace. Your leadership skills will allow you to guide your team, navigate through tasks and establish your company within the top tier of its industry.

Of course, leadership comprises of several other skills as well as natural charisma, but if you’re determined, then you most certainly can develop this bundle of abilities.

20. People Management

The job market is becoming increasingly competitive, with new talent entering the workforce every day. Whether you’re a CEO, HR manager or office supervisor, your ability to manage your people and delegate tasks will determine the dynamics within your firm.

To achieve this, you need to possess a balanced combination of other skills, too. This includes emotional and social intelligence, empathy, leadership, and negotiation to yield the best results from your team.

As we move into the next decade, this trait will be highly sought after in order to engage and sustain your people capital.

Without these critical skills, you’ll have a hard time fitting in the future workplace. Not only should they help you be more efficient, but they will also give you the added push to reach your career goals.

Do you think you have what it takes to survive in the future workplace? Join the conversation below and let us know!

This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 12 January 2018.


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