They say change is inevitable, and sometimes change is what we need. As we now know, the world has undergone so many changes, especially in terms of digitalization. Almost everything has gone digital, including the job industry. Essential traits that employers look for in a candidate, apart from hands-on experience, are the soft skills. Soft skills are individual traits and behaviors that determine how you work, with colleagues, and on your own. It is safe to say that one has to possess digital soft skills to be outstanding.
While education, certification, and training are considered minimum requirements in today’s work industry, soft skills in the work environment have proven to increase business returns and sustainability. Soft skills have been known to build confidence in employees while establishing a fruitful relationship with customers, and ultimately an excellent reputation for a company is established.
In recent years, soft skills have often been considered last after hard skills. The situation is changing, fast. The fact is, many hard skills are at risk from advancements in technology. Automation, machine learning, and artificial intelligence are taking over all types of jobs. Many hard skills, such as email marketing, data analysis, and entry, can now be automated. However, these machines are not advanced enough to replicate human abilities such as emotions and how to respond to them. Therefore, soft skills are necessary. Yet, soft skills have to be digital to fit in.
Though there are several known soft skills, some of these may be considered traditional or outdated. These are soft skills that may not matter as much in the digital workspace. Do not get me wrong, every soft skill is essential, although it depends on where it is applied.
Take, for instance, appearance and presentation soft skills. A social media company like Facebook looking to hire a programmer would not focus on a candidate’s appearance since his job is to ensure the application runs smoothly. It does not matter whether he is in a suit or a T-shirt. In this case, they would, more importantly, focus more on critical thinking, time management, and creative soft skills.
In another example relating to teamwork as soft skills, is where we have witnessed technology advancements that have led to the reduction of company staff in many organizations. A company’s customer care department, which had thirty employees, can now be run by only two people comfortably. It is as a result of companies opting to use bots instead of humans, to cut the cost of operation. Staff reduction in companies has made the need to have teamwork skills not to be considered as crucial as it would have been in the past. Not that having teamwork quality is not essential; however, it does not matter if you will be the only human in an entire department. Here, it is more important to focus on soft skills including emotional intelligence, time management, and critical thinking
Required digital soft skills
Soft skills in the digital world are essential, especially for the youth, who contribute to the highest number of unemployed persons. These skills ensure proper service delivery, improved client relations, company, and personal success, and much more. So essential are these skills that in 2014, the United Nations declared 15th July a World Youth Skills Day. The purpose of this day is to provide skills improvement opportunities for low-skilled unemployed youth. This year’s theme, “Skills for a Resilient Youth” will focus so much on the importance of soft skills and their transition in the digital world. Here are some important digital soft skills that cut across any industry or job.
Coming top of the list for most desired digital soft skills is communication. Communication includes oral speaking capability, clear speech, listening, and writing. Sadly, competency for this skill is still quite large. The best way of learning this skill is by practice. Today many business communication is done through email. It is imperative to master decent email etiquette and offer information. The fastest way to learn how to communicate is by practice. Read books, magazine articles, or take classes to improve this skill. Teach yourself to listen. The best communicators are also good listeners. Listening allows you to interpret a message well; hence your response will be appropriate.
Adaptability and flexibility
In 2019, LinkedIn listed adaptability among the five most demanded soft skills of 2019. With the fast-changing technologies, organizations, and industries, this is a critical skill to have. The ability to be flexible and clasp the change is vital. People do not want to change because of the fear of failing. The comfort of being an expert on what you know makes change feel frustrating. Irrespective of how prepared you are, your digital transformation will not always go as planned. To survive all these, you need to switch your learning agility i.e., your willingness and attitude to want to learn new things quickly; mental perseverance to bring one’s mind into the present and stay focused on outcomes; the desire to understand feelings of others by “walking in their shoes” People do not accept change quickly because of their fear of failing. To acquire this skill, nurture a culture that allows room for mistake, keeping in mind that man is to error. Innovative firms like Google and Facebook celebrate failure since it stimulates employees to leave their comfort zone and learn from their errors. Having room for failure gives you the confidence to try something new. Learn from your mistakes. Keep moving!
In life, problems are inevitable. Sadly, this also applies to work, and technology just made things worse. Organizations and companies require individuals who can solve these problems. It is among the most challenging digital soft skill to find. Problem-solving needs two different kinds of psychological ability, creative and analytical. Logical (analytical) thinking comprises the following abilities: differentiating, choosing, ordering, equating, and evaluating. To acquire this skill, train your brain by accepting to solve day to day challenges with the aim of solving them. It is hard to become decent at problem-solving if you are not faced with problems—play problem solving based games. Puzzling games provide the chance to test your decision-making skills safely and without exposure to risks.
It is the ability to use your time productively, particularly in a working environment. Proper time management enables one to work smarter when pressure is high, and time is limited. Generally, adequate time management reduces stress. Planning and organizing by grouping your daily activities, depending on urgency and importance enhances time management. Work in the direction of minimizing the urgent things so that there is time for your important priorities. Setting goals direct the way you spend your time. Defining priorities gives you time to focus your energy on items with the maximum reward for your outcome.