When you want to create a new career the first question is: What position should I move into? Or
What jobs will be there in the future?
This is one of the most important questions you could ask. Experts predict that 50% of the jobs of today which will be gone by 2025 (McKinsey, 2021; WEF, 2020).
Although you should never base your career decision solely on the predictions of experts, you can use their insight to know which skills are more likely to be valuable in the future.
So if you're stuck with picking a career, try focusing on skills that are likely to be important in the future. Then you'll know which jobs are best suited for your skillset
Read on to find out what skills are likely to be necessary in the future! The list is based on an in-depth analysis of the World Economic Forum's Future of work Report, a recent workshop I did with the United Nations Innovation Office and finally my conversations with HR leaders when we created a new AI tool to predict how well you adapt to change
Why Technical skills may not be the most important
Surprisingly experts believe that technical skills won't be the most important to prepare for the future of work.
On closer view however this makes sense, as the technical skill you learn today maybe already outdated next year. Instead, the most important skills are all related to how well you adapt to change.
Or in my direct words: If you have the skill to adapt to change and thrive you are likely to (re-) learn any technical skill that will be important in the future.
So here the skills, roughly ordered by their importance:
The Most Important Skills You need for your future career
Adapting to change
The ability to adapt to change well is a skill that experts think will become more valuable in the future.
Whether it's a new job, a new market or a new situation, you need to balance two competing behaviors: exploring new solutions and using what you already know in a new situation. You need to flexibly move between these two behaviors when problems arise at work.
If you’re interested in improving your adaptability, make sure to check out the blog of aqai, one of my corporate clients. I co-invented a new AI tool to measure your adaptability and there are dozens of articles on the topic.
Your Adaptability skills? Question to ask yourself:
- During the last year did I search for new ideas and possibilities for products, solutions or projects
- During the last year did I engage well in activities where I used my present knowledge?
Analytical Thinking and Complex Problem Solving
With information overload, complex products, and rapid change, we need to focus on the most important pieces.
Everyone can google everything but defining a problem and then coming up with a few solutions is tough. However employers reward those most who tackle their difficult product, market or people problems.
Elite consulting, investment and private equity firms have been testing analytical and complex problem solving skills for years. So if you would like to train your analytical and complex problem solving skills, learn more about how to solve these recruitment case studies.
Your Analytical and Complex Problem Solving skills? Question to ask yourself:
- Do I try to find connections between things that interest me or do I simply move on?
- When I try to find a solution to a work problem do I use a framework or method to structure my thinking and assess information?
- What is a challenge my industry currently faces that is hard to solve (e.g. in finance “How can my retail bank make a profit in times of low interest rates and competition from online banks with low overhead”)?
The more machines take over routine cognitive tasks, the more interpersonal skills will become important.
So far no computer understands empathy, can build social connections or inspire others to work. In the future of work these social skills will be vital, especially as work shifts to remote and virtual settings.
Your Relationship skills? Question to ask yourself:
- Do I really listen when others speak, meaning do I try to feel their emotions, or I am just waiting to answer until it’s my turn?
- At work, do I form long term relationships or do I just see them as numbers/ colleagues/ competitors?
- Do I voice what I think and try to show other what is important to me?
Learning to Learn
This may be a surprising skill because many people don’t even see it as a skill. Isn't everyone learning the same way?
In fact, the ability to learn is an important skill that can be learned and trained. The future of work will require employees to acquire new knowledge quickly, stay on track with new technologies, and be re-skilled for new projects.
Adaptability skills assess how well you adjust to change, whereas learning to learn assesses your ability to acquire new skills and apply them in different contexts. For example, if you are good at learning to learn, then you can cut down chunks of knowledge into small pieces and understand what isn't working. You'll also have a sense of where you need more skills.
Your Learning to Learn skills? Question to ask yourself:
- Am I trying to learn new skills that are completely new to me?
- Do I use a system and organize myself when I want to learn something new or do just try to get along?
- Am I checking if my skills are still useful or am I using the same ways in my work over and over again even if they don’t work?
Resilience & Mindset
With many uncertainties and challenges ahead, it's important to develop the resilience muscle.
Whether you're laid off, facing societal changes that impact your work, or just having a hard day at the office, this skill is what will keep you in the game long term.
Equally important is your mindset. For years, science has shown that employees who have a growth mindset are more likely to be successful than those with the fixed mindset. With a fixed mindset you think your abilities are fixed and can’t be changed (“I am not good at math”), while with a growth mindset you think your abilities can grow and you can change them (“right now I am not good at math as I did not train enough”).
Your Resilience & Mindset Skills? Question to ask yourself:
- After hard times do I usually bounce back fast or does it take me a great effort to get back to normal?
- What tasks do I do that are uncomfortable but important for me (e.g. speaking in public, training a new sports, asking someone on a date)?
- When I think about my past successes and failures do I see how my previous actions made it happen or do I tell myself they are the results of how I am wired?
How knowing these skills will help you get the recruiter to hire you, even if you lack some of the skills they are looking for.
The good news is that you can train each of these skills. When you train one skill, they likely influence the other for better. So it's a virtuous cycle.
Therefore, recruiters are increasingly searching for candidates who have these skills.
So before your next interview, make sure you go through these top five skills and try to answer the questions above. Be honest with yourself as this can show you where you should focus on next to grow your career.
Try to find one example where you showed that skill in a specific situation in your past (e.g. Resilience: in college I finished my Master degree, while breaking up with my partner, working in bar at night and having a bad flu”. Use your own experience to commit to one small action to train one of the skills next week.
Going through these skills will also help you prepare for your next interview and ace the "soft skills part." For example, often the recruiter will ask you how you deal with stress. You can't just say "Yes, well, I am resilient," but you should have a clear example or situation in mind where you showed it in the past.
If the recruiter says that you don't have enough experience with a technical skill, you can answer with "I understand this is an important skill for the position. I also believe that with this fast changing world, it will be very important to learn new skills fast. This I had to do before when I taught myself machine learning as a German Arts student. I am sure this
Conclusion: Maybe the future jobs won't be in Tech but in `Traditional areas´
This is more a crystal ball exercise than a prediction. But the World Economic Forum compared different jobs with each other to look where it's easiest to switch to new opportunities.
Very specialized jobs such as Cloud Computing, may be on vogue right now but are so specialized that it may be hard to switch. But likely the jobs that a ready for the future are the ones, where you can easily move into many career options.
On the other hand, jobs such as engineering have more easy option to switch. For example if you are a car engineer, probably you have the skills to problem solve and build engines in different industries. Yes – most likely you will learn WHAT to build, but probably easily know HOW to build an engine. A gas engine, a plane turbine, a wind turbine, an engine we don’t even know about yet.
You can see them below:
Up to you now. Which of the skills do you think you are good at and which ones could you develop more?
Let me know in the comments what you will do.