If you’re looking for a job, or simply re-evaluating your current career trajectory, having a coherent and clear strategy is essential. That can include a number of things — getting the perfect resume put together, knowing the right people, and even having at least some grasp as to what industries are growing or shrinking, or what cities and states are seeing the most economic growth.
But more than anything, you’ll want to have a solid set of skills and competencies that will win over hiring managers, and show businesses that you can and will be an asset to their growth and long-term strategy.
Your resume should include all of the traditional core competencies that businesses are looking for, including punctuality, solid industry experience, and maybe even a college degree. It’s all going to depend on what you’re looking for, of course, but there’s some new insight that is giving job-seekers — that may mean you — a bit of insider information that may put you in the upper echelon of applicants.
Businesses want employees with social skills. So what does that mean?
A ‘human touch’
This is the conclusion of a slew of new research into labor economics. The New York Times’ Upshot recently did a story covering the phenomenon, which included diving into a new study from David Deming, associate professor of education and economics at Harvard University. Deming’s paper, The Growing Importance of Social Skills in the Labor Market, says that social skills and an ability to bring a “human touch” to the workplace is becoming more important as automation and technology render many positions obsolete.
“While computers perform cognitive tasks of rapidly increasing complexity, simple human interaction has proven difficult to automate,” his paper reads. “Since 1980, jobs with high social skill requirements have experienced greater relative growth throughout the wage distribution. Moreover, employment and wage growth has been strongest in jobs that require high levels of both cognitive skill and social skill.”
It’s an interesting development and hypothesis, and the data seems to support Deming’s findings.
People will balance automation
As we know, automation is rapidly encroaching on many industries. Over the next few decades, the economy is going to be going through some drastic changes as a good deal of the labor needed across many industries is taken out of human hands, and put into the hands of robots and artificial intelligence. It’s happening at fast food restaurants, and it’s happening in the finance industry. There’s really no stopping it.
That’s what makes social skills so important. We’re going to need people — actual flesh, blood, and the ability to empathize and understand — to work in concert with the metal and circuits doing the heavy lifting. So, all that time you spent screwing around with your buddies instead of paying attention during math class? You may have been polishing the skills that will actually find you work in a rapidly changing economy.
Think about it — one of the most foolproof ways to actually get a job is to have a connection through some sort of social networking. In fact, networking is one of the most valuable skills that an individual can have these days, in terms of getting where you want to go, be it a selective school, or landing a competitive job.
Look in the mirror
And those networking and social skills are the ones we have learned from an early age. As The New York Times puts it, “what you learned at preschool.”
So, if you were more apt to screw around during your formative years, rather than be a serious student, this might be some good news. Albeit it was hard to see this coming, but still, it’s a silver lining. The bad news is that you’ll still have to couple those social skills with some sort of training or education. The jobs that are disappearing are the ones that require little training or skill, or that can be easily automated. You may be a chatterbox at your job at the local Taco Bell drive-thru, but that doesn’t mean your position isn’t going to be automated in the near future.
For job seekers — which all of us either are, or will be at some point in the future — don’t forget to take stock of your social skills as an asset. What if you’re not a social person? Make it a point to work on those skills, as they may be more valuable in the future than anyone would’ve imagined a decade or two ago.
What shouldn’t you include on your resume?
Buzzwords to leave off your resume
According to LinkedIn and writer Christopher Sandford, we rely on cheap buzzwords for four main reasons: Ease, association, appearances, and, perhaps most unsurprisingly, because everybody else does it. “While it may be convenient or seem smart to use buzzwords when talking about ourselves, your professional achievements are better than generic buzzwords,” the LinkedIn brief said.
Here are three buzzwords you shouldn’t use on your resume:
- Excellent: You’re not Bill. And you’re probably not Ted. So, you should stop using the word “excellent,” which has somehow reemerged as a buzzword. It can, of course, be used to describe just about anything. It’s also a favorite of President Donald Trump. But you can do better. Try “superlative” or “distinguished,” or even simply “good.”
- Creative: The best way to prove that you’re creative is to find a better way to express that notion other than using the word “creative.” Remember, everyone’s creative to some degree. There’s no better opportunity to show your creativity than by using a different word or phrasing. Try “visionary,” that is if you can stomach using that word to describe yourself.
- Certified: Certified in something? Someone scanning your resume or profile is probably going to know it because you should have it listed under an education or skills subheading. If you held or hold a position that requires certification, it’s implied. Omit the word “certified.”
To find out more buzzwords to avoid on your resume so you make it to the top of the pile, check out the 10 most useless buzzwords of 2017.
Follow Sam on Twitter @SliceOfGinger