October 27, 2020

The top five hard and soft skills on MuchSkills

Our users are skilled at analytics, business design, accountability and problem solving among other things.

Noel Braganza
The top five hard and soft skills on MuchSkills

It’s almost been a month since we launched MuchSkills, and we are thrilled to say that nearly 600 users from across the world have signed up so far. The incredible part is that our growth has been completely organic – mainly by word of mouth and because of upvotes on Product Hunt. (Side note: If you are a fan of MuchSkills but haven’t voted for us on Product Hunt, please do here ).

To our growing family, thank you so much for your support. We are really happy that you find our skills visualization tool useful. With your help, we hope to develop MuchSkills further so that it can bring more value to your professional lives. Do remember to send us your feedback so that we can continue to improve our product. You can also join a team on MuchSkills called “Friends of MuchSkills” if you click here.

We were curious about what the most popular skills were on MuchSkills. After looking at the data, we found that our users have a wide range of skills on offer. In this blog, we talk about the top five hard and soft skills we found on MuchSkills.

You may notice that several of the top five skills are related to each other. “Problem solving”, for instance, requires “active listening” because at the workplace, only when you are actively listening to your colleagues can you get a good understanding of the problems they face. Similarly, “design thinking” is a form of “problem solving” and is also related to “business design”. As they say, everything is connected!

TOP 5 JOB FOCUS AREAS

Job Focus Skills Trend

1. Analytics

Analytics skills are really, really popular among the users of MuchSkills. This is not surprising given that we live in the age of “big data” and organisations increasingly require specific skills and tools to understand data, analyse it and use the insights derived from it to drive their business decisions.

For the uninitiated, here’s a definition of “analytics” according to Techopedia:

“Analytics is the scientific process of discovering and communicating the meaningful patterns which can be found in data.

“It is concerned with turning raw data into insight for making better decisions. Analytics relies on the application of statistics, computer programming, and operations research in order to quantify and gain insight to the meanings of data. It is especially useful in areas which record a lot of data or information.”

A large number of organisations deploy analytics to find solutions to business challenges, to deliver their products and services more efficiently, and to understand their current and potential customers among other things. A few examples of industries that use analytics in a big way are banking (chatbots and fraud detection), telecom (customer retention and network optimization), health care (diagnostics and monitoring) and insurance (appraising and controlling risk).

It seems like analytics will never be out of demand.

 

2. Design Thinking

“Design thinking is not a linear path. It’s a big mass of looping back to different places in the process.”

David Kelley, Founder of Ideo and a pioneer of the concept of ‘design thinking’.

The design thinking skill is a creative approach to problem solving that entails understanding the needs of the user, understanding the context and culture of all stakeholders, questioning the problem and all assumptions associated with it, suggesting potential solutions, and testing these solutions. It is an iterative process that seeks to reframe the problem by putting the user at the centre. The five main stages of design thinking are: empathise – define – ideate – prototype – test. Several innovators use design thinking to create products and solutions that bring immense value to the lives of their customers.

Today, design thinking skills are essential to solve complex problems regardless of your job description or the industry you work in. This is possibly why a large number of MuchSkills users have put it down as one of their core skills.

 

3. Business Design

If innovators use design thinking to create products and services that put the user at the centre of the experience, business design takes it one step further by helping them deploy tools such as business strategy, analysis and financial modelling to make these ideas viable in the real world.

The definition of “business design” according to global design consulting firm Ideo is:

“Business design is a way of operating that combines the tools of business thinkers, analysts, and strategists with the methods and mindsets of design. Business designers think about how every element of the business model affects the consumer and client experience.”

As far back as 2016, John Oswald, considered to be a pioneer in the field of business design, wrote that business design is the most important design job of the future. With business design skills now listed as one of the top skills among MuchSkills’ users, we’d say that was prescient.

 

4. Project Management

A project can be anything – the development of a new app or tool, the construction of a building, a company’s efforts towards a digital transformation or the development of a channel partner program. Each of these projects has a clear start and a finish, a goal that has to be met and a budget in which it has to be achieved.

Here’s a succinct definition of project management by PMI:

“Project management can be defined as the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.”

Project management involves a number of processes – initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling and closing. Efficient project management is what determines whether your project will be successful or not.

The demand for project management skills has been high for over a decade, and this trend is likely to continue. In 2009, a report from the Economist Intelligence Unit found that 80% of survey respondents believed that having project management as a core competency had helped their organisations remain competitive during the 2008 recession. More recently, The Future of Project Management: Global Outlook 2019 report found that 74% of respondents of a survey thought that, in the future, project management skills will be more important than they are today.

 

5. Digital Strategy

To explain what exactly Digital Strategy skills are, allow us to digress a wee bit.

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, there’s been a lot of online chatter about organisations being forced to fast-forward their digital transformation. As large parts of the world locked down, companies that were reluctant to allow remote working or slow to move operations to the cloud, for instance, were forced to implement these changes rapidly if they wanted to continue operating.

A well-crafted digital strategy will give these companies a clear road map towards a successful digital transformation.

This, of course, doesn’t mean that digital strategy is limited to digital transformation.  A digital strategy can be deployed to achieve any objective such as improving business performance and processes or creating new products. It can be used across functions like marketing, operations, finance or sales.

Whatever it is, digital strategy focuses on using digital technologies to achieve these business objectives, aligning with an organization’s business goals at the same time.

TOP 5 SOFT SKILLS

Soft skills trends at the workplace

1. Listening

At a time of information overload, when the best of us passively listen to others – distracted by the many diversions of a technology-dominated life – active listening is one of the best communication skills a professional can have.

Listening skills are “one of the most important ways to engage employees,” says a report in Harvard Business Review. “Deep engagement does not begin with getting people to listen to you; it begins when you really listen to them.”

Active listening is one of the best ways you can really listen to people such as your colleagues or employees. It is the act of mindfully listening to someone speak, comprehend what is being said, responding and then remembering. An active listener also studies the body language of the speaker for visual cues that will help them comprehend what is being communicated. At the same time, the listener offers the speaker non-verbal cues – nods, eye contact and smiles – to indicate that they are paying attention to what they are saying.

At the workplace, active listening helps you build a connection of trust with the speaker, and helps identify and solve problems or conflicts that could hamper business performance.

 

2. Accountability

It’s great to see accountability skills listed as one of the top soft skills on MuchSkills because we believe it is this skill that helps organisations flourish.

Accountability is about being responsible for your decisions and the tasks you have been assigned. It is about taking ownership of your work. In teams, it builds trust, strengthening the workplace culture.

Being accountable is important for success because in organisations many others are dependent on your task to be completed before they can go ahead with theirs. If there is one weak link, it can hurt the whole project. In the long term, a lack of accountability can damage workplace culture.

 

3. Problem Solving

Humans have been problem solving for millennia. It is this skill that helped us in our evolution from primates.

Most of us apply problem-solving in our lives – be it at home or at the workplace. It can be something as simple as deciding what route to take back home from the office so that you can run a couple of errands along the way. In organisations too, most managers do some kind of problem solving every day; it is critical to the success of any business.

We found it interesting that MuchSkills users listed problem solving skills and creative problem solving as one of their top five soft skills because we developed this tool as a solution to a problem we noticed while working as consultants. The problem was that people across organisations were often unaware of each other’s strengths or skill sets. This led to miscommunications in meetings, unbalanced work allocations among staff for projects and eventually unhappy employees and clients.

We believe that organisations and teams that use MuchSkills will never have that problem because our skills visualization tool gives team managers and C-level executives a complete overview of the entire team’s skill sets in a single window, allowing them to pick the right people and skills for the right job as well as identify any skill gaps. We may be biased (heh), but we believe MuchSkills’ visualized employee skills overview beats any employee skills matrix or competency matrix hollow.

 

4. Multitasking

Multitasking is a person's ability to do more than one thing at a time without dropping the ball on any one of them. A good multitasker uses their judgment to prioritise tasks instead of being overwhelmed at all there is to do.

Multitasking skills are a particularly good skill to have at a time when businesses are cutting costs and are expecting fewer employees to handle multiple tasks.

Having said that, research shows that humans are not exactly equipped to multitask. It hurts productivity among other things and has hidden costs, according to a report in the American Psychological Association. “Multitasking may seem efficient on the surface but may actually take more time in the end and involve more error,” it said.

But anyone who has ever attended a job interview will know that multitasking is a skill that hiring managers always seem to look for. This also possibly explains why people prefer to list it as one of their soft skills – even on MuchSkills.

 

5. Adaptability

The dictionary defines adaptability as “An ability or willingness to change in order to suit different conditions.”

In a 2019 article, the BBC said that adaptability is “becoming the X-factor for career success” in today’s constantly evolving workplace. But that was before the Covid-19 pandemic played havoc with the global economy. Adaptability is perhaps even more relevant today given the changes the Coronavirus crisis has forced upon the global economy.


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