What skills will I need to be a marketable employee in the future? Anybody who envisions themselves in the job market five to ten years from now has surely asked themselves this question on multiple occasions. The majority of answers to this question seem to focus on hard skills.
The emphasis is largely on what technologies a person should familiarize themselves with. Unfortunately, because technical trends are so difficult to predict beyond a couple of years, this advice is not of much use to people thinking a decade into the future. What is valuable is advice on soft skills and intellectual competencies that will be in demand.
1. The Ability to Function in Multicultural Settings
Globalization is quickly becoming the norm. In five years, it will cease to be a growing phenomenon and will simply be something that is. People who wish to remain marketable will have the skills required to communicate across cultural lines. This is a skill that should not be confused with multilingualism (although that's important too). Multicultural competency is possessing the ability to adjust communication style, and collaborating with others in different ways.
2. The Ability to Produce and Understand Content that Is Not Text Based
Information delivery is changing. Video based and audio based content is becoming more popular than content that only contains text and flat images. This popularity reflects both the diverse learning styles of the population and trust that the information provided through these methods generates. This trend is not limited to marketing and promotions. It impacts any industry where information is exchanged or education takes place. This is a two street as the ability to consume and understand visual content is also going to be paramount.
3. Social Adaptability
This is the ability to understand that everybody has different motivations, preferred communication styles, sore spots, and abilities. It is also the ability to adapt one's own behavior to accommodate these differences in order to work effectively with others. This is a skill that will be especially important for those who wish to become leaders.
4. The Ability to Self-Direct
The traditional almost parent-child relationship between employers and employees is going away. The increased use of outsourcing, vendors, and even telecommuting means that direct supervision and direction are no longer possible in many cases. Because of this, workers must know how to self-direct, not just in matters of self-discipline, but also in identifying problems, and applying solutions. Most important is the workers' ability to represent the company's brand without very much guidance. In fact this is probably the most important skill you need to sell yourself in a competitive job market.
5. The Capability to Synthesize Data
We receive data from multiple sources. We take in information from other people, through our own observation, and via computers. In a given day, a worker might review comments on the company's Facebook page, view sales figures in a spreadsheet, speak to multiple customers, and observe other employees interact with each other. That information can be used in its atomic form to solve immediate problems or to increase knowledge. However, an employee who can synthesize data is able to find connections between these individual pieces of information, and use them to identify and solve larger scale problems.
6. The Ability to Collaborate Using Technology
Another result of globalization is, and will continue to be, the use of teams formed from individuals who may be located in different geographical areas. The members of these teams must collaborate with one another while dealing with different time zones and the inability to bring people into the same room together. The only way to make this work is to use technology to facilitate both communication and collaboration. Successful employees will must learn and adapt to these new technologies.