I am currently job hunting. Because of COVID-19, I am now counted as a part of the global unemployment statistics. It’s tough. However, I am grateful that I took the time to do some short courses to gain some differentiating skills to broaden my employability – virtually. This triggered my need to do this blog post.
My current situation made me realize that it doesn’t matter what career you wish to pursue or are in, you will encounter scenarios that require the application of one or more (or even all) of these skill sets. Companies need people with these skills. They outline them in the job specifications and job descriptions. This is worth some attention.
At least you should have an idea or understanding of these skills and how to use them. At most you should know to, or learn how to, apply these skills to your everyday tasks, or for your (or the organisation’s) benefit.
There are many courses that teach these skills; in part or by specializations. They are offered through a number of distance learning websites. Look out for a follow up blog about where you can access some of these courses. I got you, don’t worry, it’s in the works!
So, without further ado, let me list them now with a brief explanation about why they are necessary.
#1 Business [Idea] Development
What it involves: High Impact Business Writing, Idea Pitching, Proposal and Grant writing, Creating Business Strategies, Business Strategy Writing, Business Models.
If you possess the coveted ability to survey your environment, and assess where improvements could be made or where transformative intervention is required, you’re already a goldmine! Now, if you can create a plan of action and communicate your idea “effectively”, any company you become employed with will think they’ve hit a jackpot!
You see, proper business [idea] development can activate the revolution of organizations’ services, products and processes. Intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs need to know how to do it. Knowing how to develop your idea, into a plan with an actionable strategy, is a distinguishing factor that can help you persuade the right people – in the right networks or levels of management.
I learned how to do this while pursuing my Masters degree. Let me make a plug here for the Business Canvas Model (BMC). Learn how to develop a BMC… just trust me on this. (Those were two links by the way.)
#2 Strategic Networking
What it entails: Meeting People, Having Focused Conversations, Building Partnerships, Learning Skills, Enhancing Talents, Gaining Experience and Exposure in Your Field/Passion.
This one will help you significantly if you do not have any work experience. Still, it will help you even while at work. It’s an intangible skill that can bring tangible results and it’s not always explicitly listed in job postings.
Even while you’re in school, join a club, group, organization, NGO, or chamber. Go to business mixers, seminars, and workshops. Get yourself out there! There is a “circle” for everyone. Find yours, join it and watch how it expands your possibility to achieve your personal goals. Try, also, to exchange something of value in these spaces, with the people you meet. Remember you’re not “known” yet. Practice active listening, ask questions, offer assistance, opinions, or even a free service. In doing so, you will experience self-development, learn new skills, enhance your innate talents, gain experience, and so much more. The list is inexhaustive. You’d gain everything you need to get to where you want to be. *wink*
Wait introverts! Before you dismiss this suggestion, note this, the world is becoming more digital (especially after the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak). So, here’s what, there are group spaces that can offer you the same experience! I heard that sigh of relief (Ha!). Come on! Jump on to those Webinars. Join LinkedIn, Facebook groups, and Slack communities. These are all great places to explore!
One thing I can guarantee you, is this: you will come into contact with potential business partners, coaches, mentors, investors, and even valuable alliances and friends.
I’m an ambivert, I’ve done and do both.
What it requires: English Language Skills, Proofreading, Editing, Research Skills, Curiosity, A Wide Vocabulary, Clear Communication, Strategic Thinking, Creativity.
Sure you can write (or not, for the techies). But how well can you write? I experienced some creative blocks when I started to transition from academic writing to creative writing. Maybe you may have the same issue, maybe you won’t. But know this…
Almost all professions require some level of written communication. It does not matter what role in the organisation you’ll be charged with. Someday, you’ll have to write something. A report. An email. A speech. A document. An advertisement. A script. Something. Most times, though, it’s easy to just “write” without understanding how to effectively craft the intent, or purpose, of your words, for the audience that has to consume it. Learning copywriting will help you to capture the, often, missed opportunities to trigger the exact response or emotion you want your words to provoke.
Although its directly associated with advertising and marketing, you’d be surprised at how much copywriting will complement other forms of written communication; in your life. I dare you to challenge yourself to learn this skill.
#4 Lead Generation
What it comprises: Digital Literacy, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Content Creation, Public Relations (PR), Marketing, Email Marketing, Business to Business (B2B) Knowledge, Business to Customer (B2C) Knowledge, Sales, Software as a Service (SaaS), etc.
According to Hubspot, Lead Generation is “the process of attracting and converting strangers and prospects into someone who has indicated interest in your company’s product or service” and “it falls within the second stage of the inbound marketing methodology, after you’ve attracted an audience and are ready to convert those visitors into leads for your sales team.”
Knowing how to generate leads, for an organization, will differentiate you as a progressive human resource asset. Any employer would see you as a worthwhile investment for their organization. Customer’s desires and demands are constantly changing and evolving. If you can find a way to keep the conversation with potential and existing clients going, you’re on your way to standing out as a force to be reckoned with.
If subjects in this area aren’t offered during your academic journey, make sure to enroll or purchase a short course or a few, in this discipline. You’ll become a highly-valued employee. And BOOM goes the dynamite!
#5 Data Analysis/Analytics
Pre-requisites: Problem-Solving Skills, Mathematical Ability, Methodological and Logical Thinking, Knowledge of Programming Languages, Attention to Detail, Curiosity.
Data Analysis is the process of systematically applying statistical and/or logical techniques to describe and illustrate, condense and recap, and evaluate data… An essential component of ensuring data integrity is the accurate and appropriate analysis of research findings.
(Source: Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR))
This one here, boy oh boy, this one is the cherry on the cake. It’s used in almost every profession for the simplest of tasks like calculating employee absenteeism in a company, to major projects like Artificial Intelligence (AI) initiatives. With data, companies can address internal issues, predict trends and adjust organizational approaches and strategies, and the list goes on.
You’d want to be a part of that! Career defining moments happen when you are able to collate, manipulate and use data effectively.
Oh, if you don’t like mathematics, this skill could be challenging.
#6 The Ability to Speak a Foreign Language (or at least understand one)
What it requires: Open-mindedness, Curiosity, Determination, Willingness to Learn.
I’ve seen this phrase in some of the job postings I’ve come across: “knowledge of a foreign language is an asset”. Some tell you what language they’d like you to be fluent in; most times it’s Spanish and/or French. I would know, I’ve seen many.
Either way, as a student, you’d benefit from learning and knowing another language. The world is a global village, communities are merging, communication extends beyond continental borders. Do not limit yourself to the language you speak, and write, ever!
Watchmojo lists 10 languages that you should consider learning, in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTi1px7V0Rc&feature=youtu.be.
Final thoughts: This list is not final. There are so many other skills that you can learn to load into your personal arsenal for future use. I’ve found, however, that these skills, when certified through a course, diploma or degree, can complement any programme you’ve completed.
So enhance the utility of your resume! Make it stand out by dressing it up with one or more of these skills! They are awesome, functional, useful, valuable, and versatile “accessories”.
Be the full package!
Which do you need help with? Let’s have a chat about it, shall we?
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