Over the past 20 years in recruitment, I have met a lot of people. Many of them had invested a lot of time and money into their education and ongoing learning post a university degree. It’s a step which is built around expectations (reading a job ad: “a Master’s degree in a related discipline is highly regarded”!). It is a requirement for a certain position (it’s hard to be a qualified accountant without becoming qualified) and of late the impression being that further formal learning and adding qualifications will help you in your career. Yet over that 20 years, of the people I have met, it hasn’t been so much about the qualifications but more about the persons ability to articulate, be succinct, be aware of their own strengths and weaknesses at a personal level, which helps them stand out from other applicants. Their “soft” skills.
It begs the question, when clients we help want strong commercially “astute” people, who can adapt and handle a wide range of stakeholders, why is there not more focus from people directed at improving personal development through education? It is rarely seen to this day across most people we meet at GOW.
It is important to acknowledge that improving yourself and personal development, in terms of paying for it, is seen as unstructured (compared to technical learnings) and possibly by many as being a “soft and wafty” choice that someone may gloss over in an interview. So why pay for it? Equally it’s a fair point to say “I’ll learn this whilst on the job”. Which is very valid and to be fair where you can develop a lot of the skills required is by practicing.
From my vantage point, I think there is an opportunity for people to focus on communications skills, presentation skills, learning about dealing with various situations that arise from conflict to building initiative into your personal repertoire.
They are equally, if not more important, than developing technical skills.
Add into this the fact the world of AI and automation is fast approaching. It’s the people that adjust and manage their emotions, change direction and manage change it self and deal with the nuances of other people that will have a distinct advantage into the future.
Is an investment in these skills better than an investment into another more formal form of education?
Everyone’s different, though don’t dismiss it.
Invest in learning and honing these skills, practice them in the work setting and it may help more than you think!