The robots are coming for your job! The boom in artificial intelligence and automation will, according to different estimates, wipe out swathes of jobs across the global economy. So, of the jobs that are left, what should people do to prepare for them? What skills will they need?
This is the question LinkedIn posed to 4,000 talent professionals and business leaders around the world in an extensive survey that examined the "hard" and "soft" skills that companies are seeking most today. Cloud computing and artificial intelligence landed at the top of their list of 25 hard skills, following by skills ranging from analytical reasoning to social media management to game development.
But companies don't just hire for hard skills. Soft skills matter just as much or even more for certain roles, a fact underscored by LinkedIn's survey which showed that 57 percent of senior leaders value such skills even more than hard skills.
Of the talent professionals?--?the HR managers and other folks responsible for hiring and training people?--who participated in the survey, 92 percent said that soft skills matter as much or more than hard skills when they hire, while 80 percent said they are increasingly important to company success.
LinkedIn identified five soft skills that companies are looking for when they hire. Why are they important? Here's my take:
It's not terribly surprising but nonetheless very encouraging to see creativity at the top of LinkedIn's list of soft skills hiring managers are looking for when they hunt for talent. For all the stories you read about AI-driven supercomputers creating music or writing novels, I have a hard time visualizing the day when the artistic output of a few wafers of silicon can surpass what we of the flesh and bone species can produce.
Creativity as it is applied at work is not necessarily about art or design, but is more often about devising fresh solutions to old problems, synthesizing heaps of data into actionable insights, and drawing connections and conclusions between seemingly disparate ideas.
It's great that LinkedIn's survey surfaced this essential soft skill. As anyone in today's workplace knows, it can be a make or break skill regardless of your role or tenure in an organization. I was just recently telling a candidate I'm considering hiring that one of my main jobs is to act as salesman for my ideas. If I can't rally people to my "cause" or get them to support my proposal, it is unlikely to go anywhere. It's also one of the most challenging yet also one of the most enjoyable aspects of my job.
Good luck to the supercomputers with killer AI algorithms trying to displace humans when it comes to crafting stories and arguments and all the other very human tools we deploy when we try to change minds.
Working effectively with coworkers across functions, tenure levels, geographies, and time zones is essential to succeeding in so many roles. And it's not getting any easier, either. With the increasing pace and pressure of today's workplace, collaborating with others is a non-negotiable skill that new hires need to bring with them to the job and continue to hone while they are there.
Change is the only constant today, and so the only way to stay relevant at work is to be adaptable. Market demand rises and falls, customers fall in and out of love with your products, employees get on board and then jump ship. Having the ability to adapt the way you think about things and adjust your behavior to situations and circumstances might sound mushy and intangible, but it's a far more important skill than we like to acknowledge.
5. Time management.
One thing that has never changed and will never change is the number of hours in a day and the number of minutes in an hour. How you carve them up and allocate them to the myriad tasks that are screaming for your attention and energy is a sometimes under-appreciated skill that can make or break your ability to get your job done and have impact.