Though you likely haven’t thought about those New Year’s resolutions in a while, 2019 is nearly half-way over. With another lap around the sun charging fiercely ahead, it’s a good time to do a gut check on how you’re doing. What were those goals you set for yourself? Or more specifically: your career?
Even if you haven’t been promoted or quit your not-so-great gig (yet) — there are ways you can evolve as a professional by investing in your skill set. This forever-evolving aspect your productivity and purpose in the office includes both technical and interpersonal proficiencies, and is something to revisit at least once a year.
As career expert Wendi Weiner explains, “These can be a mix of soft and hard skills that lead into one’s personality as well as core skills that a professional learns on the job such as business development, sales execution, or relationship management. Career skills are industry specific but also broad in nature as skills are often transferable from one role or one industry to the next.”
As the calendar pages continue to turn, here, leading career experts provide their best recommendations for the most valuable career skills to invest in for 2019.
1. Versatility and Integrity
If there’s one certainty you can depend on, no matter what date it is, it’s change. As millennials make up more and more of the workforce, they’re challenging traditional norms and paving the way for a new definition of upward mobility.
That’s why Weiner says, more than anything, companies are looking for employees who are versatile and can roll with the punches, so to speak.
“Companies are always evolving due to a changing economy. This is extremely important for technology-based companies or startups,” she explains.
With this dynamic workforce, more and more are working remotely — whether from a WeWork or a beach in Thailand somewhere — which puts a new onus on self-motivation. Because of this, Weiner says versatility must come with an aptitude for teamwork and integrity.
“There is a need for employees to be collaborative and have a strong sense of integrity when it comes to working afar and being honest about the work being done,” she adds.
Say what you want about the trite advice about the immense importance of building your relationships, but they’re on point.
As career expert for Monster.com Vicki Salemi explains, this soft skill impacts every aspect of your career and your ability progress. Consider how you interact with your boss, your colleagues, your employees, your clients and even virtual assistants, if they’re part of your gig.
Salemi challenges professionals to consider how well they not only nurture and build, but repair in-office dynamics. No matter if you want to move up in your current company or switch to a new one, how you create and foster relationships with others will make or break you.
After all, it’s simple: people want to work with — and hire — those they like.
As she puts it, this soft skill is rooted in your ability to think through multiple lenses when creating, building, and innovating.
“It is an inspiring concept that requires one to look beyond the fundamentals of one’s job. Don’t just think about the utility of your job, think about the contribution you’re making to the team and your organization,” she adds.
4. Running effective meetings
Lately, there’s been plenty of talk on the importance of meetings: how many are necessary to meeting goals and client expectations — and how many waste everyone’s already-limited time.
Especially for those at a manager level, exercising your best judgment rather than accepting every invite — and encouraging your employees to do the same — is a special skill for 2019, according to career expert Elizabeth Whittaker-Walker. More to the point, you should be rethinking how you approach and strategize for the meetings you do need to have.
“When meetings are absolutely necessary, it’s critical to know how long to spend on each agenda item, which things to bring up at what time, and how to effectively budget time to align on next steps, and so on,” she continues. “Part of planning an effective agenda is being clear about the goal and desired outcome, which helps you to know if a meeting even needs to happen. Could the matter get resolved via e-mail, a quick phone call or even a text message, instead?”
5. Tech Aptitude
No matter where you live or what you do, the likelihood that you’ll use a computer is pretty much a guarantee. With few exceptions, every level — from entry to executive — is expected to know their around a digital landscape.
“Employees need to have the additional training and aptitude for workforce productivity and success. This means understanding data privacy, tech, and digital marketing,” Weiner continues. “Companies are interfacing with clients online and virtually, so the ability to build strong relationships through relationship management in a virtual network is also a key skill.”
Ballpark: how many emails did you send and receive today? What about meeting invites? Phone calls? Have you thought about those notes you took a day ago — or typed ‘em up yet?
Most professionals feel pulled in many different directions with deliverables here and follow-ups there. Your ability to stay on top of — and better yet, ahead — of the many demands of your gig will set you apart, according to Salemi.
“It’s important to be able to prioritize work efficiently, and part of that means sorting through an influx of information,” she continues. “Productivity and time management also fall in this bucket — to succeed in 2019, know what to focus on and accomplish, especially as deadlines approach.”