Have you got these core skills? They could drastically bolster your career

6 min read | Harry Gooding | Article |

core skills

With emerging technologies like generative AI dominating the media, you’d be forgiven for thinking that technical prowess is the key to career progression. Increasingly though, employers are seeking professionals with core skills, mistakenly sometimes referred to as ‘soft skills’; from communication to critical thinking, these human competencies could future-proof your career.

  • Core skills are abilities that influence the way you work and interact with others.
  • As emerging technology disrupts an already skills-short job market, core skills are becoming increasingly valued for their transferability.
  • From communication to problem-solving, there’s a number of core skills that you can start targeting today to increase your relevancy in the job market.

What are core skills?

Core skills are needed in practically every job, but what exactly are they? Also known as ‘people skills’, they can be thought of as mindsets or behaviours that help you excel in your career. There’s no exhaustive list, but key among them are: communication and interpersonal abilities, problem-solving, adaptability, leadership, and emotional intelligence.

The sometimes-used term, ‘soft skills’, is something of a misnomer, especially given the labelling of their more technical counterparts as ‘hard skills.’ In reality, there’s nothing easy about obtaining these skills, which are often only gained through years of lived and professional experience.

And unlike technical skills, these intangible qualities are highly transferable and resistant to change. While a niche coding language may fall out of use, the core skills behind an application’s design – such as creativity, logic or analytical thinking – can be carried across future projects and jobs. For this reason, there’s an increasing school of thought that core skills can provide long-term value.


Employers crave these core skills

With the shift towards versatile employees who can handle multiple tasks, certain core skills will add weight to your CV and help future-proof your long-term career. Here are some of the core skills that employers are actively seeking:

  • Communication and interpersonal skills – i.e., can you hold a conversation? And can you write an email? Excellent. If you can’t, consider using tools such as ChatGPT and Grammarly to help with your written content. Simply explaining that you prefer to communicate via email because you prefer a paper trail can help minimise verbal interactions, too. However, these skills are incredibly desirable, and mean you can convey key information to colleagues and stakeholders, build professional relationships, and ultimately work effectively with others to take your career forwards.
  • Leadership abilities – this is mostly relevant when you’ve gained a degree of seniority, but will always be highly valued. However, if you’re struggling to pinpoint work-related examples, consider: have you ever planned an event? How did you go about doing it? How did you organise and prioritise and communicate with others? Good leaders can establish a clear vision, inspire others to reach shared goals, and always remain accountable. Real-world experience can be just as valuable as that gained within the workplace.
  • Emotional intelligence – over the course of a single day, it’s likely you’ll experience a gamut of different emotions; from joy and contentment to frustration and disappointment. Being able to recognise and regulate these emotions, along with understanding the feelings of those around you, can build productive relationships and navigate a range of people-centric challenges. Moreover, emotional intelligence is increasingly critical in a tech-driven world, where a human understanding can support the capabilities of AI and other emerging tools.
  • Adaptability – while a cliché, it’s true that change is the only certainty in today’s world of work. Whether it’s embracing new digital processes and working patterns, or implementing feedback and taking on additional responsibilities, the ability to adapt your skills and mindset will help you stay relevant and in-demand.
  • Problem-solving – what workplace doesn’t encounter roadblocks? No matter your career path, industry, or seniority, being able to analyse situations and produce efficient solutions is a clear winner. You’ll almost certainly have to solve problems outside of work too – from fixing a leaky pipe to mediating an argument between friends. And regardless of the context, being an effective problem solver often requires a variety of other core skills, such as creativity or decision-making.

As you may have noticed, many of these core skills tend to cross paths and complement each other. This is part of what makes these skillsets so valuable; they’re highly transferable and work in unison to actively support a range of professional endeavours.

Look out for the second part of this core skills series, where I’ll outline some of the methods you can take to develop your core skills and future-proof your career (spoiler: this may involve activities that you enjoy and find rewarding).

Find out more about our Hays Academies, where you’re guaranteed full-time employment and a personalised training plan.

For further information, email us at Skills@Hays.com today.


About this author

 Harry Gooding - Director, Hays Skills & Learning

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