How to Develop an In-Demand Skill Set

How pandemic-proof is your skill set? If a global event disrupts the economy, would you have a job tomorrow? Many people lost jobs last year, but those workers with high-demand skills were able to do one of three things.

These workers kept their jobs, they were snapped up by a new company if they were laid off, or they pivoted with ease into a new industry. Those are the perks of an in-demand skill set. You’ll always be able to find work. To ensure the stability of your income, you’ll want to continuously improve on this in-demand skill set which should include the following skills.

Speaking Skills

Strong speaking skills are one of the top skills that will land you a job, improve your job performance, and advance your career.

  • At job interviews, you’ll be able to give concise, well worded, and confident answers.
  • Your elevator pitches will persuade your listener to believe in your cause or invest in your project.
  • When presenting an idea or your boss, co-worker, or client, you’ll deliver your concept in a persuasive and effective manner. The other party will either agree with you or respect you if they disagree.
  • Customers and clients will trust and understand your advice.
  • Your presentations at meetings will be well-organized and polished.

Clarity and confidence are important on the job for people to understand you and believe what you say. To develop your speaking skills, work on the following:

  • Time and record yourself speaking about one topic for one to three minutes. Listen to the recording. Does your speech have a beginning, middle, and end? Do you speak smoothly, or fill your pauses with ums and uhs?
  • Practice giving a presentation to someone you feel comfortable with, such as friends or family.
  • Watch videos about public speaking and try to implement a tip into your speaking practice. For example, focus on the volume and pitch of your voice one day, and focus on your vocabulary use for an impromptu speech on another day.

Sales Skills

Here’s a fact you probably knew but may not have thought about: you need to be able to sell to be successful. Many people don’t know how to sell or are afraid to because of the slimy, desperate, dishonest salesperson image that we associate with selling. What you should know is that sales in every day practice is more subtle:

  • Selling your concept or idea to your boss at a meeting. Selling is persuading in this case, and if you can’t persuade, then you can’t get the other party to agree with you.
  • Selling your boss on a job promotion or getting a raise. Why should your boss give you that job title you want? Why should you get an increase in your salary? Again, if you aren’t persuasive, you won’t achieve what you’re looking for.
  • Selling to your customers and clients. The obvious result of a successful sale is if your client buys what you are selling. However, there are other levels of selling, such as getting the customer to trust you and build a long-term client relationship with you and your company.

Sales is a skill that can developed over time. It’s a high-demand skill because every business needs sales to survive. To work on your sales skills, practice the following:

  • Read books and watch videos about sales tips and techniques. Understand the psychology behind why some sales techniques are effective.
  • Practice selling something to someone you feel comfortable with. As you gain confidence, work on selling something to a stranger. For example, convince someone you don’t know to try visit a place you like.

Writing Skills

Writing is an important skill for communication and professionalism. Your mastery of this skill increases in importance if your work involves a high level of accuracy and/or or political correctness.

  • Writing emails that have few grammar, spelling or punctuation errors reflects on your level of education and professionalism. If you make a lot of mistakes with words like they’re/their/and there, your writing can look sloppy.
  • Verbal communication is easy these days with voice messaging apps, but writing is important for keeping records. A letter or email saying that you will have something done by a certain date is a solid promise of what you will do. In some cases, written records can become evidence if there is a lawsuit.
  • Written reports and other documents are a permanent record that will be referenced in the future. Your choice of words and the clarity of your thoughts will be vital to the professionalism and accuracy of the document.

Writing skills need a lot of practice and time to develop because you need to learn grammar, spelling, and vocabulary. You can also try these activities:

  • Copy a piece of writing that is written in the style that you want to learn. By copying it as practice, your brain starts to learn that writing style.
  • Practice writing each day. Use writing apps such as Grammarly to review and give suggestions on how to improve your writing.

Leadership Skills

Career advancement is difficult without leadership skills. Empathy and understanding the people you work with, and being clear and organized about when you want something done are both in-demand skills.

  • At most companies, a promotion means becoming a leader of some kind, which means you need leadership skills. You need accountability and responsibility to lead a team, become a supervisor, or become a manager. It’s rare that an employee will receive multiple promotions for a job in which they work solo. Leadership skills can be learned from on-the-job training or taking a course.
  • As an owner of your own business, even for a sole proprietorship, you still need to know leadership skills to manage your employees or contractors.

Technological Savvy

Ongoing mastery of technology is key.  Software is constantly upgrading to new versions and companies require their staff to learn new programs and platforms over time.

  • Larger organizations have replaced processes with technology to simplify the work of employees. For example, paper-based time sheets have been replaced by computerized time sheets to make the calculations easier for the accounting department.
  • Companies with employees or clients in other cities or countries are using technology instead of in-person meetings. For example, the technology for a Zoom meeting is less expensive than flying people and booking hotel stays.
  • While it’s still possible to call someone on the phone, or walk over to another person’s desk on the same floor, communications applications make it easier to share files and messages between office workers and locations. Members of one chat can see what actions have been completed by various team members involved in the same project.

Fortunately, it’s easy to find videos on YouTube on how to use all the latest platforms and software. If your co-worker or your company IT department hasn’t answered your tech question, you can educate yourself on whatever technology you are using.

Summary

If you aren’t sure how to develop an in-demand skill set, start by looking for skills that are transferrable from one industry or niche to another. In times of economic hardship, these skills will continue to find you steady work. Strong speaking and writing skills, and sales and leadership skills are just some of the skills that are always in high demand. Can you think of any other transferrable, high-demand skills? Comment below!

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