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Looking for a job? The key skills in the digital age

Have you ever wondered what skills are in highest demand in the employment world? Watch recruitment manager Joan explain more.
Hello, I’m Joan. And I lead our entry level recruitment at Accenture. That encompasses multiple different apprentice, intern, and graduate programmes. As a recruitment manager, I get to see every day what kind of skills are in high demand. As technologies are developing and changing quickly, the skills we need are adapting as well. But here’s the good news. There are some key skills that are important no matter what kind of job you’re in. And they will stay really important, even when jobs are changing and evolving. To build on these skills is a great way to set yourself up for success. They can be grouped into six families. First, having the desire and the ability to learn and develop yourself.
After all, the world is changing fast, and we need to be able to change with it. If you’re a young person, you are very likely to have many different jobs during your working life. According to a LinkedIn study, young people today have an average of four different jobs between leaving school and the age of 32. Having the desire to grow is as much of an attitude as it is a skill. And it’s the most important one for success. It means being curious, embracing change, and being open to new methods and thoughts. It also means never thinking you know it all, and you don’t need to learn anymore.
The people who master this skill are more flexible and can adapt to change. They can pick themselves up after something went wrong and try again, because they know that things are likely to fail the first time around.
And think about this: the jobs that will exist have never been done before, so we will all have to learn new things. Second, a strong foundation. What we mean by that is all those skills that you need to be ready for work. For example, good writing skills and digital literacy. That means being able to find, evaluate, create, and share content online. Ask yourself if you can prioritise and manage your own time, actively listen to people, and put instructions into action. These may seem like basic skills, but if you look at job descriptions, you will see that demand for these foundation skills has tripled since 2010.
While technical skills may change, these skills will always be relevant, so they are a great place to start. Third, building some tech know-how. This means having a good understanding of how to use digital devices, and being able to understand, analyse, and share data. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be fluent in programming languages, but more that you can learn how to use a new technology on the job. Digital skills aren’t just for IT experts anymore. In fact, in a recent survey, 85% of business leaders said that digital skills will become critically important in the next five years - no matter if you actually work in what’s considered a technology job or not. Fourth, social and relationship skills.
We have already talked about how the ability to work together will become more and more important. That’s why skills such as communicating, actively listening to other people, and being able to openly discuss issues are so critical. And that is nothing new. In fact, social skills have been among the top three most desirable skills in job postings over the last seven years. Also consider that talking to somebody face-to-face is different from talking via remote messaging tools, such as Skype. And you will therefore have to adapt to these different channels. Fifth, being able to solve problems creatively and logically. So what does that mean?
Well, creative problem solving means looking beyond the obvious approach to a problem, and instead coming up with a new idea. Or perhaps applying an approach you already knew in a different way. For example, imagine you have to hold a presentation explaining what you do in a typical day. The traditional approach might be to stand up in front of people and just talk about it. But you could also solve this creatively - for example, by recording a video of yourself at different times during the day. Critical thinking, on the other hand, means looking at an issue from different angles before judging it.
Generally, it means that you have to be open to the idea that what you thought was true originally may not actually be the case. Business leaders predict that critical thinking will be the most important skill in about 10 years’ time, as it is one of the really key skills that differentiates us from machines. Finally, specialised skills. Once you’re in a certain field, you also need to develop your relevant specialist skills. These will always change according to what’s in your job field at the moment, and include, for example knowledge of specific software, machines, or techniques.
It’s worth thinking about where you stand in relation to these skills, where you perhaps need to improve, and how you can get to a level at which you’re comfortable with each one of them. But also, don’t forget that everyone has strengths and weaknesses. I’d like to encourage you to really build on your strengths. You will enjoy the process much more, and become much better at what you’re doing.

If you’re not starting your own business or working for yourself, you might be more interested in attracting the employer of your choice! There are some key skills that every employer is looking for in the digital age – and it’s worth thinking about where you stand in relation to them, which ones you have already mastered and which ones you could improve.

Joan leads the Early Talent Recruitment at Accenture. This means that she manages all the recruitment for people who are just starting off with their careers – whether they are apprentices, interns or graduates. She has 15 years’ experience recruiting both entry level and experienced people across many different industries, and has spent a lot of time thinking about career routes and relevant skills. For example, she spent more than 18 months as part of a careers team advising students and graduates on possible career paths to ensure they have the best employability options. As a recruitment manager, she gets to see every day which skills are in high demand.
In this video, we take a closer look at six key skill families and why they are so important for jobs, especially as we will be working more and more with digital technologies:
  1. A desire to learn
  2. A strong foundation
  3. Tech Know-How
  4. Social and Relationship Skills
  5. Creative problem-solving
  6. Specialised skills

We will have a closer look at these skills in the next step.

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