Once you’ve been handed your college or university degree, that’s the beginning of your career. It’s only begun and there are loads of things to learn and pick up once you’re out there pitching yourself against your peers and other more experienced workers in the market.
This is not to say that you’ll have to carry your pitchfork around with you all the time, it’s more about enhancing your skills to stay ahead.
What most students are advised to do during and after their studies is to ‘up their skills’ and ‘be open to learning new skills’ as much as they can. Experience speaks volumes but if you start out showing your future employers that you’re the kind of person who is willing to put on some elbow grease, you have one foot through the door.
Some basic skills will always be in demand and if you’re looking for ways to add to your portfolio or list of skills, here are some of the things you should consider picking up.
Effective Communication Skills
The better you are at communicating problems, needs, solutions, strategies, and ideas, the more sought-after you will be. Communication skills continue to top the list of expertise employers look for in a good worker because not much can be done when a business hits a snag and communication breaks down. If you can untie knots of communication, you’ve set your career path in motion.
The reality is this: within a corporation, big or small, everyone has his or her own task to complete. One would almost always affect the other. A computer programmer might have a problem with the copywriter, or the sales marketing manager might have a predicament with his boss’ secretary.
A person who is able to sit down, analyze and come up with solutions and communicate ideas on how to overcome such obstacles is a much sought after person. Read up on what makes a person with good interpersonal skills and see if you have it in you.
Technical & Practical Skills
The geek is in demand these days since we’re entering an age whereby automation is key to a more efficient business. What an IT person understands, however, may not come through to a person whose job is outside of the scope.
If a programmer is to explain the inner workings of SEO tags and software upgrades to someone working at the cashier counter, most of what is said will probably be lost in transition.
If the cashier is a little more aware or willing to learn about how the software works, or if the programmer can dumb down the IT aspects of his work down to a layman level, these two have a future together in the company.
Some people tend to stick to the norm and prefer the comfort of their own cubicle. And then there are out there who are always thirsty for the hailstorm of new knowledge and information. Take a guess which one of the two mentioned above is more sought after?
It’s important to keep learning and never be contented with what we already know so that we can keep up with the constantly-shifting job market. At this point, people with soft skills like excellent Excel spreadsheet mastership, content management systems, computer programming, SEO, branding, creative display management, and coding are in demand.
Employers seek out workers who are, if they do not already possess the skill, willing to take up challenged and help the company grow with new concepts. Take up courses on your own accord, ask your boss to sign you up for training, or attend a seminar. These will be stepping stones to playing a bigger and more substantial role in the company.
Set your ego aside, admit that you don’t know, and believe that there’s no limit to growth.
Leveraging on diversity
It’s been said before and it continues to be true today – the Internet has made the world a much smaller place. Everyone is, literally, an email or a message away from each other. If you’ve had the opportunity to work or study outside of your country and are skilled at adapting to new cultures and work styles, you’ll be in demand.
Understanding diversity and work culture is imperative to any modern business today…yes, even with brick-and-mortar ones.
Communicating and working with people from different time zones has become more common than before. Everyone has naturally different views of how things should work, what motivates them, and communication styles.
And employee with such an understanding will stand out as the ‘glue of the group’. They become essential to keeping the team together, preventing clashes and encourages involvement and inclusion despite different cultures, backgrounds, working styles, knowledge, and experiences. If you’re able to draw out the best in everyone, you’ll be in demand.
Process, analyze and present
The people sitting in the boardroom do not have the time to ponder over the accuracy of PowerPoint presentations but they DO care if problems are being solved and goals are met.
There are so much data and information out there that shareholders and directors do not have the time to sit down to micromanage everyone. Hence, it is important for an employee to listen properly to what is needed, gather all the information related to the requests, process, compile and then present them in digestible pieces.
In fact, a good modern employee is able to sit down and see both sides of the coin and make the connection quickly and efficiently.
It pays to be able to listen without judgement, clarify, ask questions, reflect on possible solutions, summarise, share, and present. People who can ‘read the room’ perform really well under stress too.
Make sense of data
We’ve actually left the best for last: a person who does data collection and analytics will be in high demand in the future. With automation in the horizon, it will be crucial for companies who can make sense of all that data coming in and strategies their business direction based on them.
No doubt, technical specialists and IT personnel will continue to rule the roost when it comes to this department but a study called ‘The Business Grammar Report’ revealed that employees who are able to get the big picture and help the company target a large customer base, propel company projects, and increase revenue streams is highly in demand.
You don’t have to be intrigued by data, numbers, and codes to be good at this. Instead, learn to understand them in the shortest period of time. If you’re able to look at the data, ask the right questions and get the right answers, and then summarise your opinion and suggestions, you’re going in the right direction.
What companies care about are their goals and the ability to reach them. If they’re not reached, why.
The good news is that these kinds of skills can be developed. It may not be natural skills to you but if you keep trying, take the initiative, speak to the right people, and put some serious hours into practicing them, you’ll be ready to climb the corporate ladder in no time!
In conclusion, remember these eight important things that you need to learn up on and master before and during your employment.
- These skills can be developed before, during and after completion of your college or university degree
- Businesses are moving at a rapid pace
- Develop skillful communication skills
- Acting as a bridge between the technical and practical sides of the business
- Always reinvent and upgrade yourself
- Understanding and leveraging cultural diversity
- Have the ability to process, analyse problems and propose solutions
- Help the company make sense of strings of complicated data and analytics
Good luck and Selamat Menyambut Hari Merdeka to all Malaysians. Have an amazing long weekend filled with cheer, celebration, food, and festivities!
If you’re looking for good Malaysian colleges and universities to up the ante, get in touch with us and we’ll show you the ropes. Malaysia, besides being an up-and-coming educational hub for international students, is an awesome place to stay and study in.
We hope to hear from you soon.
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest” – Benjamin Franklin