Top 5 Skills for the Modern Workplace and How to Get Them


By: Heream Yang / August 16, 2019

It’s no secret that the workplace is rapidly evolving with the increased digitization of work. Employers are looking for skills that weren’t even on the radar a decade ago, and it’s important to keep up with industry demands in order to be a competitive job applicant. Lucky for you, we’ve listed out the top 5 skills modern employers look for and how to start cultivating them:

1) Microsoft Excel

Most roles in the business world require some level of proficiency in Excel, but what exactly does this mean? At the very least, you should be confident in basic Excel shortcuts, such as the skills listed here. If you want to brush up on your Excel capabilities, check out this beginner's tutorial, or browse the hundreds of other Excel tutorials available on Skillshare. If Excel is especially important in your industry, you may want to consider becoming Excel certified so employers have hard proof of your abilities.

2) Data Analytics

Data-driven decision making has become prevalent in the business world, so being able to collect, analyze, and apply insights from data is crucial. While the extent of your analytical abilities depends on your specific role, at the very least, you should learn how to gather and examine quantitative results. Depending on your industry, you might want to consider learning programs like Google Analytics, R, or Tableau.

3) Cross-cultural Competence

In our increasingly global world, being able to speak a foreign language is a great asset. It’s relatively easy to begin learning a new language through digital language learning programs like Rosetta Stone. However, learning a new language requires a steep learning curve that may be difficult to balance with a demanding work schedule, so, at the very least, seek to develop cross-cultural competence. Surround yourself with people whose life experiences are different from your own. Of course, be respectful, and don’t ever force anyone to be a cultural ambassador. Consider becoming involved with an affinity group at your workplace, whether as a member or an ally, or join a cultural organization in your local community. Don’t be afraid to ask (respectful) questions about customs you’re genuinely curious about- just be willing to listen and learn.

4) Collaboration

With the advent of open offices, the ability to work well in teams is becoming an even greater asset in our increasingly interconnected society. You may find yourself working on a cross-functional team with HR managers, marketers, financial analysts, and engineers. It’s important to be self-aware of how you function in a group, and how that might affect the way you communicate with others. Personality assessments are fun to take, but the results can also be extremely insightful in recognizing patterns of behavior you exhibit and how those might affect your role in a group. Of course, there’s the standard Myers-Briggs test, but, if you want more sophisticated answers and are willing to shell out a bit of cash, check out the StrengthsFinder assessment, a more empirical option that pinpoints your strengths. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from your colleagues and supervisors to gain personal insight into your strengths and areas for growth.

5) Creativity

These days, companies don’t want robots- they already have them. Instead, they seek creative people who will innovate and disrupt the technologies they run. Jobs that require critical thinking and creativity are safe from being replaced by artificial intelligence. So, how do you go about developing creativity? A great way, according to the Harvard Business Review, is by cultivating creative hobbies. A hobby breaks you out of the narrow mindset that may be limiting you at work and places you in a completely different context with completely different possibilities. This can be as simple as writing poetry on the subway or taking dance classes as part of your fitness regimen. If you’re having trouble getting started, check out these awesome Skillshare classes on design thinking, the art of doodling, and storytelling. By forcing yourself to think outside of the box of work, you will be able to approach problem solving from unique, unprecedented frameworks. In fact, just being a millennial already gives you a leg up. According to Victoria Pao, President of S&P Global Platts, executives value the fresh perspective that digital natives bring to an increasingly digital economy.

As you can see above, digital experiences are changing the way we work. It’s now not only a plus to have digital skills under your belt, it’s almost expected. Due to this trend and demand for digital skills, we’ve partnered with Accenture Women in Digital to host a workshop - “How to Design Digital Experiences” on September 5th, 6-8PM, in Accenture’s Content Studio in NYC. Join us for a fun two-hour workshop where we’ll discuss specific digital skills, walk through case studies, do an interactive activity, and have a Q&A with Accenture female leaders. Event link here! 

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