Which graduate would an employer choose, one who has knowledge about the Financial Domain or another who is equally knowledgeable but can also draw insights with their Analytical Skills?
Who would a Marketing Agency rather hire, a person who has theoretical knowledge about Marketing concepts or another who has the same expertise but at the same time has demonstrated an ability to execute projects?
Think about it!
About Essential Skills and why they matter
When you try to enter into the world of business and jobs, there are often gaps that an employer wants you to fill. That is precisely why they are giving you a job. You fill in most of the gaps through education and training.
But as you get further into your career, you will notice that some of these gaps are left wide open. These gaps will start to accumulate as you spend more time in various roles and positions. These gaps are actually a hole, waiting to be filled with skills. But sadly these skills are not taught as part of any curriculum.
Essential skills could be your ticket to get that job you've always wanted at your dream company, a job that allows you to have financial freedom. They are a means to rise above the competition, earn more money in today's workforce and climb through your career faster.
As one executive recruiter put it in this article by Harvard Business Review, “The C-level person today needs to be more team-oriented, capable of multitasking continuously and leading without rank, and able to resist stress and make sure that his subordinates do not burn out. And he needs to do all of this with a big smile in an open plan office. In other words, we’re looking at a whole new breed of top executives.”
This is true for people at every stage in life, especially freshers, as they have yet to make a mark in the business world.
Suppose you are learning finance as part of your curriculum. But the thing is, millions of other students are learning the exact same thing as part of the same course. How will you make yourself stand out? The answer lies in the skills which we will discuss in this article.
Skill #1 - The Ability to Organize
Ever wondered why the world has become so fast-paced? This is because we have become a society based on efficiency. People do not have time to waste, focusing on how to hit deadlines.
One of the most essential skills for succeeding in organizing yourself and your work to achieve objectives. This includes the ability to be able to organize meetings, plan for different scenarios, and to prioritize tasks. It is the ability to get things done; but more importantly, it is a way of not letting yourself, your organization, and the people you are working for a waste time. The ability to organize carries a vast canopy of organizational skills.
“Employees with excellent organizational skills are also able to keep themselves calm and prepared with systematic planning and scheduling. Employers look for workers who can schedule and delegate these smaller tasks to themselves and other employees in order to stay on track with deadlines.”
For example, we can look at the typical responsibilities of Executive Assistants. They have to manage executives’ calendars so that there is no confusion regarding their obligations. They have to keep track of the executives' itineraries, keep track of all the information their bosses need, and ensure that they are available during particular time slots. In summary, they have to be extremely efficient at everything they do.
Skill #2 - The Ability to Analyze
Analyzing allows you to understand what is going on in a particular situation and enables you to make decisions accordingly. This skill is one that people find hard to master, but it is an essential one.
According to the Future of Jobs Survey, 2020 by the World Economic Forum, analytical thinking and innovation are the top-ranked skills employers will continue to look for in the future.
For example, analyzing the marketing trends from a series of reports could be the difference between growing or not. In a general sense, analyzing can be used to make better decisions.
The ability to analyze is one that you can never have enough of. It enables you to go beyond the surface and get right into the heart of problems and issues. Ideas, concepts, and theories are all made better and more useful once they are put through the analysis loop.
It is a skill that is required in every field, from finances to engineering projects, from marketing reports to customer service complaints.
One specific example I always like to use is the ability to analyze customer feedback. Analyzing every customer complaint that comes to your business can help you understand what is being said about your products and services. This could enable you to address issues before they become major problems, develop better resources and even improve on existing ones.
Skill #3 - The Ability to Execute
While planning and organizing tasks are one thing, the ability to execute them is a whole other. Executing means that you need to be able to put into action what you have planned. It's the difference between making plans and following through with them.
This video by Wharton, University of Pennsylvania sums it up about perfectly:
Executing involves doing things and reaching goals, which is how people make a name for themselves in a company. You need to determine how to plan for work and how to get the best out of yourself and others.
“Ideas are cheap. Ideas are easy. Ideas are common. Everybody has ideas. Ideas are highly, highly overvalued. Execution is all that matters.” ~ Casey Neistat
For example, you might be faced with a tricky situation in your job. You need to solve problems or find different solutions to a given problem. You can either give up or see if there is another solution that no one has thought of yet.
One example of a job where this skill will help is a Project Manager or an Office Administration/Executive Assistant role. Like in a situation where your boss needs to have certain reports by EOD. You will have to find out how you can get said report, get a team to work on making said report a reality, and finally, solve any problems that arise from the report's completion if a deadline is due.
Skill #4 - The Ability to Communicate
It is said that just because you can talk and understand English does not mean you know how to effectively communicate. Business Communication is characterized by more than just knowledge of a language. Understanding someone else's point of view, and getting your own point across, especially in a big organization, is nothing short of a miracle. You need to be able to express yourself professionally and convincingly to gain the respect of others when they are working with you.
One such situation people usually face as young professionals is when they are tasked with persuading their superiors to see things from their perspective. You might have noticed that this skill is crucial in any field, from customer service to business development and management, to name just a few.
However, there are many ways you can learn this skill:
Practicing in different situations
This Stanford Graduate School of Business video is sure to help you understand the concept of structure while communicating:
While you do not have to learn a whole range of skills, a jack of all trades is better than a master of one. These skills aren't a replacement for hard skills and proper knowledge, but they will help you stay ahead of your colleagues and prove your worth to employers.
The chances of distinguishing yourself as a young professional are slim, and a lot of it boils down to inexperience and beginners' struggle. However, suppose you could incorporate these skills into yourself and demonstrate that you are adept at them. In that case, you could easily win over many employers.