As college enrollment continues to decline (NPR), organizations have been forced to reevaluate their employment qualifications. Gen Z is also reassessing their own priorities as millennials move into mid- to senior-level roles. The result: degrees aren’t the be-all and end-all anymore.
In a recent study by Degrees of Risk, American Student Assistance (ASA) and Jobs for the Future (JFF), researchers found “81% of employers agree organizations should hire based on skills rather than degrees and 58% of Gen Z students agree companies should hire more high school graduates who have pursued non-degree pathways.”
With a shift to skills over a university education, employers are already prioritizing foundational competencies over an impressive degree — they want to see candidates who can apply what they know directly to a job function. Further, more employers are now referring to soft skills as a requirement and valuing transferable skills like communication, teamwork, and decision-making more than ever before.
What does that mean for you? Here are four skills employers want in 2023:
Since 2020, the entire workforce has learned flexibility is key. Whether you’re shifting from working in the office to working from home, learning how to manage a distributed team on the fly, or coping with changing market and economic tendencies, adaptability is now a requirement for employers.
Flexibility requires employees to go with the flow, develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and be able to upskill all at the same time. These qualities are especially important for employees in leadership positions. If you can develop and demonstrate these skills, it will improve your chances of getting hired and succeeding in your role. Additionally, adaptability makes it easier for your employer to move you from one role to another within the company or promote you to a leadership position.
If longevity at a company is important to you, adaptability is crucial to your success.
2. Self-Management Skills
While all workplaces have a hierarchy of management, developing and displaying your ability to self-regulate and meet deadlines is invaluable to an employer.
Some of the most valuable self-management skills include:
- Time management
- Meeting deadlines
- Prioritization of tasks
- Ability to work from various locations
Developing the skills to manage your own time and deadlines increases your value to a company. When a manager or higher up doesn’t have to constantly check-in and manage your workflow, you’re viewed as a very valuable employee, which can increase your chances of receiving a promotion or getting to work on favorable projects.
3. Soft Skills
Time and time again, soft skills make the list of most important things employers are looking for in their employees. Soft skills can encompass a wide variety of important workplace skills.
Valuable soft skills include:
- Emotional intelligence
- Critical thinking
Developing and highlighting your soft skills on your resume and in job interviews can make you stand out from other applicants. Continuing to hone these skills and demonstrate them to management at your workplace will also benefit you in the long run when management roles open up or leadership opportunities arise.
4. Learn to Communicate Well — Even with Computers
The ability to communicate clearly encompasses all forms of communication — especially writing and speaking. In the modern workplace, employees write emails, communicate on Slack or Teams, verbally share information in meetings, and speak to co-workers regularly. All of these tasks require the ability to communicate efficiently and effectively.
In addition to these traditional communication skills, employees also need to start developing technological communication skills. There’s no need to become a software engineer, but a generalized comfort and understanding of coding, data analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cybersecurity can be beneficial in the modern workplace.
Keeping up with the latest technological advances can be intimidating, but it’s critical to workplace success and can be accomplished with curiosity and continuous learning. Maintaining an openness to learning and an attitude of curiosity makes it easy to learn new skills.
The modern workplace and lifetime value of degrees are changing. Don’t be left behind — by working on a few of your soft skills each year, you are continually primed for new opportunities.
If you’re actively seeking a new job or promotion this year, focus on your:
- Self management
- Soft skills
Programs like the Invited MBA provide hands-on opportunities to improve these transferable skills. Apply today!