The world was already rapidly changing before the pandemic added more disruption to the mix. So if you want to stay relevant on the job market, keeping up with trends and freshening up your skills is key.
“There have been countless emerging technologies that have developed rapidly over the past decade alone, from driverless cars to AI to quantum computing. As a result, the skills needed to use or continue to develop those technologies have also evolved quickly,” says Catalina Schveninger, Chief People Officer at online learning platform FutureLearn.
FutureLearn just released a study on technology knowledge in the modern workforce, and the results revealed that only 30.6% of professionals feel that college prepared them very well for the workplace.
“This really highlights how quickly definitions of ‘tech skills’ have shifted over the years, and have also left so many individuals feeling behind the curve,” says Schveninger.
Before you learn how to code and consider yourself up to date, keep in mind that tech skills are ever-changing and, in order to avoid being held back, you need to continuously hone your skillset — it’s a journey, not an end-result.
“The average shelf life of digital skills is five years, therefore not refreshing these skills regularly even within the same role means reducing our employability significantly (staying still skill-wise means going backward).”
Considering half of the respondents in the study said a lack of necessary tech abilities has held them back from a job they’d like, you might want to be proactive about your learning. “Staying relevant and standing out in today’s increasingly competitive job market means taking a proactive approach in learning these skills independently.”
Here are the five skills the professionals surveyed in FutureLearn’s study think anyone should know before entering the workforce. Make sure you have them under your belt.
1. Microsoft Office Suite
While mastering Microsoft Office Suite feels like it could be something a bit dated or obvious to state on a resume, it’s the farthest thing from the truth. In fact, it was ranked as the No. 1 skill everyone should know before entering the workforce so it’s still very relevant.
It makes sense — Microsoft is the original productivity software brand and still the go-to for many organizations. Plus, if you know your way around Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, it gives you a solid base in terms of adapting to other tools and platforms.
2. Information Literacy
Information literacy was the second most important skill highlighted by professionals surveyed. But what does it consist of? “To be information literate, a person must be able to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information,” according to the American Library Association.
While that definition was written in 1989, information literacy has taken on a whole new form with the digital age — and the speed at which you can effectively deploy your ability to use it is more critical than ever.
The better you are at this, the more effective you’ll be as a professional in any industry or role.
3. Proficiency in a common operating system
This one seems like a bit of a no-brainer, but with 45.4% of survey respondents ranking it as a sought-after skill, it shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Are you more of a Mac or a PC user? How well can you navigate and troubleshoot your computer? Does the settings section slightly intimidate you? Ultimately, mastering a common operating system means you’ll be more productive while juggling your tasks and deliverables.
4. Google Suite (43.7%)
Google Drive was right behind Microsoft Office Suite as far as the top programs people use in a typical workday, and Google Suite was ranked as the fourth most important skill pros should possess.
So whether you use Drive to store files or regularly collaborate in Docs, it’s in your best interest to know how to use the bundle of Google tools for general job success.
5. Online meeting software
It comes as no surprise that mastering online meeting software such as Zoom made the top five of skills everyone should have. The pandemic has pushed organizations into the age of remote work almost overnight, and many of those companies will not return to in-office work.
Learn the ins and outs of apps like Zoom, Google Hangouts or Microsoft Teams to keep yourself up to speed with the job market. From creating meetings and sending invites to joining discussions without embarrassing mistakes and sharing your screen, you definitely need to be able to navigate the reality of remote meetings.