Five Essential Skills for Your Future Career

At the beginning of every academic year, many students speak with fear about articles they’ve read listing professions that are disappearing or becoming obsolete in the near future. They ask a simple question: How can they best prepare for their future career in such a rapidly changing and unpredictable world? Well, here are five essential skills for your future career we’d recommend to all students interested in future-proofing their careers.

Study hard but don’t forget to focus on soft skills

A short survey conducted among students at the Ban Ki-moon Institute for Sustainable Development at KazNU found that 74 percent of respondents believe that “soft skills” are very important for success in career life after graduation, while 26 percent are of the opinion that “hard knowledge” is more important.

These survey results reflect the realities of today and the need to find a balance between learning hard and soft skills. We should bear in mind, though, that this issue is complex. We believe that “hard knowledge” in a specific professional field is still highly valued in the world outside universities (and you get your grades for that too). Yet, you also have to obtain soft skills. We usually suggest devoting at least 25 percent of your time to learning various soft skills.

Some skills are transferable across many fields

Every discipline and every career has its own set of very explicit and narrowly defined vital skills. Also, some skills are general and applicable in many areas. One such skill is project management. Indeed you will realize that almost every job description requires project management skills or project management experience, as progressively more companies and organizations build their work and undertakings around specific projects.

An unofficial motto of project managers is wisely expressed by American entrepreneur Denis Waitley: “Expect the best, plan for the worst, and prepare to be surprised.” The quote may be a bit funny, but it also suggests how solid project management skills will put you in good standing, in basically any profession.

Don’t forget about strong communication skills

In the rapidly globalizing world, strong communication skills have become increasingly important for staying competitive in the job market today and tomorrow. Although almost everyone can claim to have communication skills in one form or another, modern effective communication has its own rules, techniques, and scientific principles which can significantly boost success in communication.

Indeed, you can have the brightest and most innovative idea, but if you fail to communicate it to your friends and colleagues, the idea will be lost: in fact, the first 50 prototypes of the iPhone failed and kept failing until the innovative team learned to communicate between each other better.

A number of comprehensive courses – both in-class and online – and advanced communications patterns and systems can enhance effective communication skills. American billionaire Warren Buffett underlined “learning communication skills like public speaking” among top skills essential for success not only in the business world but also in every other profession.

Advanced digital skills have become key

Advanced digital skills have become more and more essential as we use and rely on our latest technologies – social media, different devices, and artificial intelligence. The recent trend has seen many of the largest and most venerated corporations and even government agencies adopting information communication technologies (ICTs) as their main mechanism.

In this setting, possessing elementary computer knowledge is not enough. Employers require that fresh graduates be capable of everything from using the internet proficiently to producing breath-taking work on Microsoft Office, and from software programming to advance internet business skills.

Emotional intelligence can’t be easily replaced by technology

Paradoxically many corporate leaders increasingly talk about and highly value emotional intelligence, despite the fact we use more machines than ever before and now communicate more online than in person.

In a nutshell, emotional intelligence is your ability to deal effectively with emotions, create appropriate emotional relations with each other, communicate competently with workplace teams, and intelligently and appropriately use emotional information to create a positive workplace environment.

By developing and training these skills and abilities, you can be more successful in your personal interactions, from attending job interviews to creating a positive emotional environment for a team you’re leading.

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