Quick programming note: I wrote this before Coronavirus overtook seemingly all of the United States. I figure we all are paying enough attention to the global pandemic, so hopefully this is a quick break from what feels like a very scary world out there.
Like a stereotypical millennial, I don’t have one job, I have three: I work at Project Wayfinder, teach at Boston College and am a writer*. No specific major in college or program could have adequately prepared me for each and everything I do. So how do we support the next generation of people like me? How do we prepare young people for an uncertain future?
Leadership, creative problem-solving and communication are the skills that employers value most. Linkedin just released its latest workplace learning report that surveyed over 6,000 professionals about the future of work. Overwhelmingly, business leaders valued “soft skills” in potential employees over hard-skills. In fact, engineering and coding skills were rated “least important” for recruiters.
The most successful business people in the world agree on the importance of these skills. For their new book Innovation Capital, Jeff Dyer, Nathan Furr and Ralph Hamers interviewed many of the top 25 leaders in business, including Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Marc Benioff, to understand the skills that make them so successful. Their research found common traits among these leaders; they were all creative problem-solvers, persuasive communicators, and powerful relationship builders.
The takeaway: focus on transferable skills as opposed to domain-specific ones. The beauty of these 21st century “soft skills” is that they are not education-specific; we can develop them playing video games, participating on a club soccer team or by editing an Instagram post. Ask of yourself (or a young person), where are you most creative? Where are you solving a lot of problems? Where do you feel most successful? What are you doing that’s driving this success? The answers’ to these questions provide valuable opportunities to build the skills to thrive in the future world of work.
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P.S. I appeared on the Highway To Health Podcast to talk about my work. The talk goes into more depth around the topics I cover here.
*The imposter syndrome kicks in HEAVY when I even type that word.