Invest in yourself! There is simply no better investment out there that will yield higher returns. Now, you might be laughing at my attempt at a Finance-related joke, but in essence, it’s entirely true. Investing in your education, skill set or health are the most important things you can do – no matter how busy you are, you should carve out some time to invest in yourself.
2020 has been a difficult year so far & the job market out there is more competitive than ever before, so if you’re looking to get promoted or if you’re on the hunt for a new job, there are certain skills you should work on developing. After reading this Linkedin article about the most in demand soft skills (inter-personal) & hard skills (technical) in 2020, I decided to put together a list of skills that proved most important when I was interviewing for my current role as Senior Pricing Manager, and what I look for in candidates when their CV comes across my desk.
1- Communication: 90% of anyone’s role these days revolves around talking – and I don’t mean around the coffee machine about the latest Netflix binge. Whether it involves explaining your work to your boss, presenting in front of the Executive team or composing an e-mail to a colleague, it all boils down to communication. Being able to deliver a clear and concise message that is not ambiguous and does not leaves room for interpretation is a skill that’s crucial in today’s world. You might be thinking -‘Duh, so obvious’, but communication is a skill that needs development. The starting point should be to never assume someone understands something; bring them along on the journey and tell them the full story.
2- Teamwork: Ever heard of the expression “Teamwork makes the dream work”? It’s a common expression in my work place, but it’s also one that is so very true. Teamwork might seem like a no-brainer, but there are a lot of people out there who actually don’t know how to effectively work in a team. Teamwork means sharing responsibility, being accountable for your work, actively listening to your stakeholders across all departments and understanding their needs, clearly explaining your own needs, respecting budgets & deadlines, lending a helping hand and so much more. Your team is not only your department, your team in the entire company.
3- Adaptability & Flexibility: Everything these days is fast paced – “We plan, God laughs” – true story. You can plan out your entire day and a new project can wipe it all out in a split of a second – you need to learn how to thrive in that kind of environment. You need to be flexible in both your agenda, by re-prioritizing your to-do list, and in dealing with challenges. In terms of your agenda, if you have a task and no deadline was given, ask for the timeline – this will help you prioritize your time. If the whole presentation you worked on for weeks is now scrapped b/c of a major event, pivot & move on. That’s what flexibility is all about – meetings will get cancelled and re-scheduled, projects will pile up – work around it, there is always a solution, just keep calm, be patient and polite (rudeness will get you nowhere)!
4- Emotional Intelligence: Emotional what? It’s the ability to understand your emotions and be able to manage them – especially important in the workplace. Let’s face it, people can be difficult, but how you decide to deal with them is your decision. Learning how to be more confident, self-aware, how to listen and empathize with others or how to be resilient are all skills that can be developed to keep your emotions and those of others around you in check. I highly recommend the Harvard Business Review book set on Emotional Intelligence to help you sharpen those skills.
5- Creativity & Problem Solving: No, it’s not about drawing a bowl of fruit. Creativity in thinking outside of the box, coming up with new solutions to problems that may arise, and coming up with new ways of doing things that will make you and your team ultimately more efficient and effective in the workplace. It could be a new way to present the data you just gathered to convey the key points in a way that hasn’t been done before, or it could be a financial model that will process data quicker and get you the insights you need.
6- Data Modelling & Analytical skills : Data is king. It’s what fuels all decision making. Data modelling is very much in demand these days as there is typically a huge amount of data out there that needs to be collected, summarized in a coherent way & analyzed. Whether it’s sales data or customer behavior patterns, learning how to build models using programming like Python or simple Excel to help develop insights is a great asset to have, especially in analyst role. Once you have the data, you need to be able to read it, interpret it & draw meaningful conclusions. Every field out there form Fashion to Banking relies on data and requires a certain degree of business acumen, so you can never go wrong with brushing up on the basics.
How to acquire these skills? We’re lucky to live in a day and age where information is in abundance, we just need to carve out the time to get it. Read books, take online courses (Linkedin Learning, CPA order, Coursera, BoF, etc), surf the net and do your research. There was never a better time to learn & especially now that it’s summer & a lot of us are still stuck at home – sacrifice an evening, an hour in the morning or the weekend to invest in yourself!
Hope you find this post useful and don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions!