As the Leaving Cert looms, it is easy to think back to ‘that’ time when you filled out your CAO. Thoughts of the different jobs you could have, and the possible careers open to you, filled you with either joy or terror. But chances are you never considered a career as a digital media consultant, an app developer, a UX/UI designer, a cloud computing specialist, a data architect or the head of happiness in Google. Why?
Well, if you did your final year exams in the 80’s, 90’s or early noughties these jobs did not exist. At that time the formula for success went like this- ‘In your late teens/early 20’s get a good education, by your mid-20’s get a permanent job, in your mid to late 20’s buy a house, get married and have family in your 30’s, save in your 40’s and 50’s and retire in your 60’s’. Move forward to the mid noughties – social media was in its infancy and not everybody had smart phones. The world is a very different place now and so is the workplace. The hard skills of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), and other subjects that were once the building blocks for success, are still important. But many of these hard skills are rapidly being replaced through advances in robotics, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, driverless transport and biotechnology.
So how do we as humans stay relevant into the future?
The short answer is we don’t know. But, there are a few things we do know.
We know that as a 21st century worker you must plan ahead so that you can change, pivot, progress and engage with many jobs and multiple careers. To do this successfully you must develop sought-after skills through continuous upskilling, reskilling and retraining.
But what are these skills, and more importantly, how do you build them while working?
As the world of work becomes increasingly dynamic and flexible, so-called soft skills are where it’s at. In 2016, a Deloitte Global Capital Trends Report revealed that creativity, emotional intelligence, cognitive flexibility and the ability to work with people are the most sought after skills in the workplace. The research tells us that the changing world of work demands a new breed of senior managers, leaders and c-suite executives who are technically capable and have the capacity to handle change and disruption with empathy, agility and innovation. The great news is that it is possible to own your career and learn these soft skills on your commute to work, go for a walk or at lunchtime.
A great place to start is with podcasts that challenge your thought process. Happier with Gretchen Rubin, a New York Times Best Selling author, is brilliant and starts every episode with a practical tip for you to try at home. Optimal Living by Justin Malik is a brilliant podcast helps you optimise your life. The other great option is Tiny Leaps Big Changes by Gregg Clunis which focuses on evidence based ways to improve your life and career. If you like Tim Ferriss check out Tribe of Mentors. Launched at the end of 2017, Ferriss interviews interesting people about their careers.
To improve your communication skills, giving and receiving feedback in clear, candid and focused language is essential. Radical Candor by Kim Scott, both the podcast and the book, are super resources to help you build this skill. If you want to build a coaching style into your work, check out Michal Bungay Staniers’ The Coaching Habit. If building your public speaking skill is important to you join Toastmasters.
To learn insights from thought leaders in their field, choose events to attend that you learn something at and that you meet new people. Check out the range of super events with IMAGE. You’ll also find links to the best events through Eventbrite and Meetup.
If you’d like to engage in some formal soft skills based learning through some of the best colleges in the world, check out the range of free to access courses through Edx or Futurelearn. Edx have a full suite of courses aimed at improving your soft skills including Business Communication, Storytelling in the Workplace, Team Work and Collaboration, Public Speaking, Empathy and Emotional Intelligence at Work.
Photo credit: Sai Kiran Anagani, Unsplash