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Skills that will be necessary to find a job post-COVID-19
Data from LinkedIn suggests soft skills will be the most in-demand as the economy begins to rebuild and 2020 grads look for work.
The reality faced by 2020 graduates is stark. As CNN reports, seniors began their school year in boom times with national unemployment at an incredibly low 3.7 percent. Then mere months before graduation, the boom went to bust.
Coronavirus drove the economy to a standstill. Businesses shuttered their doors. Unemployment rose to 14.7 percent, the worst since the Great Depression. That's before the market receives an influx of job seekers leaving high school and college later this month.
It remains too early for long-term predictions, but based on current trends, graduates will need to begin building career resilience before they have careers to fortify. And a good place to start would be soft skills.
Soft skills in demand
Today's graduates face the worst job market since the Great Depression, one new influx of job seekers will further burden.
Writing as a guest contributor for CNBC, Emily Poague, vice president of marketing for LinkedIn Learning, believes today's graduates and job seekers have the opportunity to hope. Yes, the job market is difficult. Yes, 2020's graduating class is one of history's largest. But, Poague notes, LinkedIn data shows there are currently 1.5 million entry-level jobs available in the United States. Today's seekers also have unprecedented access to programs that teach new and relevant job skills.
"What's more, there are certain skills in demand across all industries that can help grads stand out from the crowd, start their careers on the right foot and position themselves for advancement as the economy recovers," Poague writes. "Having the right skills can make all the difference, even in difficult times."
Citing LinkedIn's annual "Grad's Guide to Getting Hired" report, Poague argues soft skills to be the most in-demand qualifications requested in job postings.
Soft skills are those built from personal attributes—think teamwork and conflict resolution. That's opposed to hard skills, which focus on knowledge and abilities such as data mining or bookkeeping. Because hard skills must be taught—people aren't born natural data miners—they're often the focus of our schooling.
Six skills for your career toolkit
A graph showing U.S. unemployment skyrocket in April 2020 among the economic shutdown.
But soft skills aren't entirely innate. We often foster them through experience, but they can also be taught, or at least developed and strengthened, through learning. Here are the soft skills Poague believes every graduate should have in their post-COVID-19 career toolkits, alongside a summary of her reasons why.
Customer service. Excellent customer service will aid companies in weathering the coronavirus economy and rebuilding afterward. As such, companies are hiring employees who can provide that experience, both on- and offline.
Leadership. We tend to think of leadership as an executive competence, but as Poague reminds us, everyone must make difficult decisions. A job seeker's ability to "project clarity, credibility, and self-confidence" can help them navigate those decisions.
Communication. Communication skills have always been career critical, but with the embrace of remote work, job seekers will need to prove they can communicate effectively under unique circumstances.
Problem-solving. Alongside analysis and critical thinking, this soft skill aids graduates in short-circuiting their biases. Employers value the skill as it signals which employees can derive informed conclusions from the glut of information in our ever-connected workplaces.
Operations and project management. Much like novel coronavirus, the complexities brought by the pandemic won't disappear. Job seekers who can show they have a grasp of concepts like scrum and Six Sigma will have an advantage.
Marketing. COVID-19 "dramatically altered how customers view and interact with the products and services they use." Whether a brand had staying power will largely be determined by how they connected with customers. Job seekers who can form such connections will be prioritized.
A future-proof investment?
Poague is not alone in her valuation. Even before novel coronavirus, many experts and think tanks argued job seekers should prioritize soft skills to prepare for future job markets.
LinkedIn's "2020 Workplace Learning Report" surfaced data from more than 660 million professionals and 20 million jobs. Its findings showed soft skills to be "foundational" and ones "every professional should be working to build."
In a report on the future of jobs, the Pew Research Center canvased the opinions of more than 1,000 experts. A majority suggested that future workers should learn to "deeply cultivate and exploit" those skills that cannot easily be replicated by machines or artificial intelligence.
As Simon Gottschalk, a sociology professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, told the Pew Research Center: "The skills necessary at the higher echelons will include especially the ability to efficiently network, manage public relations, display intercultural sensitivity, marketing, and generally what author Dan Goleman would call 'social' and 'emotional' intelligence. [This also includes] creativity, and just enough critical thinking to move outside the box."
Finally, the World Economic Forum's "Future of Jobs Report 2018" found that such attributes would retain or increase in value by 2022. Of the top 10 growing skills, eight were soft skills such as leadership, creativity, critical thinking, and emotional intelligence. The only two hard skills in the category were "technology design and programming" and "systems analysis and evaluation."
The consensus between all these reports points to a silver lining: If today's graduates and job seekers make growth and lifelong learning a foundation of their careers, they can better support their careers in tomorrow' job market.
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- 10 skills all students need in any job market - Big Think ›
- Half of U.S. job seekers looking because of coronavirus - Big Think ›
A cave in France contains man’s earliest-known structures that had to be built by Neanderthals who were believed to be incapable of such things.
In a French cave deep underground, scientists have discovered what appear to be 176,000-year-old man-made structures. That's 150,000 years earlier than any that have been discovered anywhere before. And they could only have been built by Neanderthals, people who were never before considered capable of such a thing.
Water may be far more abundant on the lunar surface than previously thought.
- Scientists have long thought that water exists on the lunar surface, but it wasn't until 2018 that ice was first discovered on the moon.
- A study published Monday used NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy to confirm the presence of molecular water..
- A second study suggests that shadowy regions on the lunar surface may also contain more ice than previously thought.
Credits: NASA/Daniel Rutter<p>Still, it's not as if the moon is dripping wet. The observations suggest that a cubic meter of the lunar surface (in the Clavius crater site, at least) contains water in concentrations of 100 to 412 parts per million. That's roughly equivalent to a 12-ounce bottle of water. In comparison, the same plot of land in the Sahara desert contains about 100 times more water.</p><p>But a second study suggests other parts of the lunar surface also contain water — and potentially lots of it. Also publishing their findings in <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41550-020-1198-9#_blank" target="_blank">Nature Astronomy</a> on Monday, the researchers used the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to study "cold traps" near the moon's polar regions. These areas of the lunar surface are permanently covered in shadows. In fact, about 0.15 percent of the lunar surface is permanently shadowed, and it's here that water could remain frozen for millions of years.</p><p>Some of these permanently shadowed regions are huge, extending more than a kilometer wide. But others span just 1 cm. These smaller "micro cold traps" are much more abundant than previously thought, and they're spread out across more regions of the lunar surface, according to the new research.</p>
Credit: dottedyeti via AdobeStock<p>Still, the second study didn't confirm that ice is embedded in micro cold traps. But if there is, it would mean that water would be much more accessible to astronauts, considering they wouldn't have to travel into deep, shadowy craters to extract water.</p><p>Greater accessibility to water would not only make it easier for astronauts to get drinking water, but could also enable them to generate rocket fuel and power.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Water is a valuable resource, for both scientific purposes and for use by our explorers," said Jacob Bleacher, chief exploration scientist in the advanced exploration systems division for NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, in a statement. "If we can use the resources at the Moon, then we can carry less water and more equipment to help enable new scientific discoveries."</p>