Most people associate training to acquire new skills with formal courses, often arranged through their employer. But that’s not the only way to improve your knowledge. We are all learning, all the time. It’s a constant process.
There’s a real benefit to formalising that process and becoming a lifelong learner, someone who is motivated to take steps to learn and develop, independently of a third party enabling them to do so.
It can boost our understanding of the world we live in, provide more opportunities and generally improve our quality of life. Most lifelong learners have a goal of improving their personal or professional development. Often the two areas will impact on each other, and so they are not necessarily separate areas.
So, if you find you have time at home, whether that’s through lockdown, furlough, unemployment or flexible working, instead of binge-watching the latest box set, consider developing new skills that will improve your job prospects.
Increasingly employers want transferable skills
Employers value transferable skills because they can be used in numerous functions and roles. These are often the so-called ‘soft’ skills, those interpersonal skills that improve our ability to achieve our goals, such as problem-solving, collaboration, or persuasion. Transferable skills also include broad areas of expertise that can apply across different functions such as numeracy or data analysis.
According to research from LinkedIn, 92% of employers value soft skills as much, or even more, than hard skills. So what are the top soft skills that employers want, that you could develop at home?
Creativity – by which we mean the ability to think creatively, to approach a challenge in a new way. Find ways to practice thinking outside of the box and bringing new solutions to the table. Our brain creates its own short cuts, but these can lead to habitual thinking. So we have to make a conscious effort to let go of assumptions that limit our thinking.
Persuasion – organisations want people who can bring the team on side, who get others to follow their lead not because they are told to, but because they are inspired to. If you can effectively communicate the benefits of an idea, and persuade others to support them, you’ll find yourself in demand. Learning how to use confident body language and sharp presentation skills will definitely help here too.
Collaboration – Strong teams can accomplish things faster and more effectively, but can only operate efficiently with close collaboration. Teams that master this are the quickest to improve and innovate. And it’s never been more important than in the current climate where co-workers are dispersed geographically. Finding ways to ensure everyone’s ideas are welcomed and considered is a great soft skill to develop.
Adaptability – three things in life are certain – death, taxes and change. A global pandemic certainly brings home the third element like nothing else. If you are to be successful, you need to be able to adapt to change. Stay informed and educated. With the internet at your fingertips, there’s really no excuse for not keeping up with trends in your market sector.
Emotional Intelligence – this is the capacity to interact and respond empathetically to co-workers and customers. You need to be prepared to step outside of your own experience bubble. Develop emotional intelligence, and you will be able to understand more fully the challenges your customers face and apply that knowledge to how you do your job to help them.
Don’t forget the hard skills
Having talked about soft skills, there are also some hard skills that are worth cultivating. McKinsey research suggests that the technology already exists to automate about fifty percent of the jobs we know today. And new jobs will emerge. Who would have thought twenty years ago there would be such a thing as an SEO manager? So, if you decide to improve your hard skills, there are some key ones that are worth investigating because they are going to be in demand.
These include Blockchain, cloud computing, analytical reasoning, artificial intelligence, UX design, affiliate marketing, and scientific computing.
If you have spare time at home, many of these skills can be developed through online courses, books or other resources. Embrace life-time learning, and you’ll be investing your time wisely to make yourself more employable.
Have you had more time at home recently, and if so, have you chosen to use it to develop your skills? Let us know what you’ve done and how you’ve done it.
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