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Five Essential Skills for Your Future Career

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At the beginning of every academic year, many of my students speak with fear about articles they’ve read listing professions which are disappearing or becoming obsolete in the near future. They ask a simple question: How can they best prepare for their future career in such a rapidly changing and unpredictable world? Well, here are five things I’d recommend to all students interested in future-proofing their career.

Study hard but don’t forget to focus on soft skills

A short survey conducted among students at the Ban Ki-moon Institute for Sustainable Development at KazNU found that 74 percent of respondents believe that “soft skills” are very important for success in professional life after graduation, while 26 percent believe that “hard knowledge” is more essential.

These survey results reflect the realities of today and the need to find a balance between learning hard and soft skills. We should bear in mind, though, that this issue is complex. I believe that “hard knowledge” in a specific professional field is still highly valued in the world outside universities (and you get your grades for that too). Yet, you have to acquire soft skills as well. I usually suggest devoting at least 25 percent of your time to learning various soft skills.

Some skills are transferable across many fields

Every field and every profession has its own set of very specific and narrowly defined essential skills. At the same time, some skills are universal and applicable in many fields. One such skill is project management. Indeed you will find almost every job description calls for project management skills or project management experience, as more and more companies and organizations build their work and activities around specific projects.

An unofficial motto of project managers is wisely expressed by American entrepreneur Denis Waitley: "Expect the best, plan for the worst, and prepare to be surprised." The quote may make you smile, but it also conveys how solid project management skills will stand you in good stead, in practically any profession.

Don’t forget about strong communication skills

In the rapidly globalizing world, strong communication skills have become increasingly important for staying competitive in the job market today and tomorrow. Although almost everyone can claim to have communication skills in one form or another, modern effective communication has its own rules, techniques and scientific principles which can significantly boost success in communication.

Indeed, you can have the brightest and most innovative idea, but if you fail to communicate it to your friends and colleagues, the idea will be lost: in fact, the first 50 prototypes of the iPhone failed and kept failing until the innovative team learned to communicate between each other better.

Many comprehensive courses – both in-class and online – and complex communications matrixes and systems can boost effective communication skills. American billionaire Warren Buffett highlighted “learning communication skills such as public speaking” among top skills for success not only in the world of business but also in every other field.

Advanced digital skills have become key

Advanced digital skills have become increasingly important as we use and rely on our new technologies – social media, various gadgets and artificial intelligence. The recent trend has seen many of the largest and most venerated corporations and even government agencies adopting information communication technologies (ICTs) as their main mechanism.

In this environment, having basic computer knowledge is not enough. Employers demand recent graduates be capable of everything from using the internet efficiently to producing virtuoso work on Microsoft Office, and from software coding to advance internet business skills.

Emotional intelligence can’t be easily replaced by technology

Paradoxically many corporate leaders increasingly talk about and highly value emotional intelligence, despite the fact we use more machines than ever before and now communicate more online than in person.

In a nutshell, emotional intelligence is your ability to deal effectively with emotions, create appropriate emotional relations with each other, communicate competently with workplace teams, and intelligently and appropriately use emotional information to create a positive workplace environment.

By developing and training these skills and abilities, you can be more successful in your personal interactions, from attending job interviews to creating a positive emotional environment for a team you’re leading.

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Rafis Abazov's profile image
Written by Rafis Abazov
Dr Rafis Abazov is a visiting professor at Al Farabi Kazakh National University, Almaty, Kazakhstan, where he also manages a joint program with Earth Institute of Columbia University (New York, USA). He has written 10 books, including The Culture and Customs of the Central Asian Republics (2007) and has regularly contributed op-eds to The New York Times. Mr Abazov enjoys collecting rare books on British exploration of Central Asia and reading travelogues on Central Asia and the Middle East by Eugene Schuyler, Vladimir Bartold and Lord George Curzon. He has also authored photo exhibitions about his trips to Central Asian republics, Turkey and Afghanistan. Contact info: Office 1400 Rectorat, 71 Al Farabi Ave., Al Farabi KazNU, Almaty, 050040, Kazakhstan

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18 Comments

Thank you, very useful information. The words of Denis Watley, an American entrepreneur who says: “Expect the best, plan the worst and prepare for surprise,” will be my life quote.

I especially liked the parts about strong communication skills and emotional intelligence, because as I learned from my own experience, these are the two things young specialists tend to forget about. Great advice on how to stay up-to-date in our rapidly changing world. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

Alimzhan Mustafina

We ourselves often say that 99% of success is work. But we can not always know what to do, how to develop skills or the simplest, how to interest others. These 5 skills given in the article are useful not only for those who begin their careers, but also for those who already have some experience.

Thank you!! I liked the article. I am studying the topic of journalistic conflictology. I want to get maximum knowledge and become a strong specialist. I want to be a leader of youth and all of Kazakhstan. Can you write an article about how the leader of Kazakhstan should look like through the eyes of young people?

I think this article is very relevant for the current youth. After all, now in our fast-paced world, indeed, many professions are no longer needed, or disappear altogether. I was also pleased that in this article there are 5 ways to develop skills. With each of the skills is very important for growth and becoming a new level. It is impressive that the Ban-Ki-Moon Institute in KazNu is not indifferent to this issue. Also remembered are the wise words of American entrepreneur Deniyas Waitley "Expect the best, plan the worst, and prepare for surprise." For me, it can become a phrase of life. Thanks for attention!

There is given a good combination of advices to compete and fit to realm of modern labour market. Hope everyone find it helpful, and will use in practice.

Today's modernized era demands and needs young people who are flexible, creative and proactive. Who can solve problems, make decisions, think critically and communicate ideas effectively and work efficiently within teams and group. Thus, these skills are mentioned really important to contribute the developing of student's preparation for future career and will motivate them.

Indeed, given article is really significant for young people who are in their ways of becoming 'person' and looking for good advices and directions like that. I am so thankful for your material and hopeful to read more articles in such field as education, career or this stuff.

In the competition world, where excellent talent is abundant, employees need to develop strong skills that enhance their performance and contribution at the workplace.Five skills that was presented by our professor, is very necessary ,if you want to accomplish exceptional results and achieve professional goals.

If you want to stay demanded in the highly competitive labor market then this article is for you, as there you can find information about important soft skills which will perfectly supplement your hard skills and make you a valuable member of any organization. Many thanks to the author!

Undoubtful, that skills and abilities which described in this article will be significant in our future job. Each profession has own features and difficulties, but if you know your advantages, you definitely will overcome them. It also should be noted that improving such skills will help not only beginners, but also experts in their professions.

Thanks for this article. we could learn some very useful information. Today a lot of students can not get skills, practice abroad, due to the fact that they can not work with simple projects. We received the necessary information for us to get an education abroad, or to become a successful person who deals with any complex projects. For this we need more than 60% of skills and 40% knowledge.

I think this article is useful for students like us. It is clearly and clearly written about the necessary skills for a future career. Sometimes we forget about the skills. Each area and each profession has its own characteristics and advantages. This article has been helpful because you need to keep in mind strong communication skills. By training and developing our skills on this article, we can achieve career success. This article is very interesting.

Thanks you! Indeed, in the modern world, information communications occupy a special niche. And in my profession, in publishing, it is also important to be able to communicate. The article was very helpful!

Now to get the job of our dreams, we need all these skills described in the article above. Especially for students like us, these skills will help to fully realize our potential. Especially the skill of critical thinking will be needed in the future.
Thank you! Very interesting and useful article.

Very useful article! All these skills and ways of thinking will certainly be needed by everyone to realize their full potential. In an era of fake news, an active and informed citizen should be able to evaluate information from various sources from critical points of view. It should be helpful to reason and make decisions!

These skills and ways of thinking will certainly be needed by us, students, in order to realize their full potential. To solve a problem, you need to be able to critically analyze it and think about its cause. This is why critical thinking and problem solving are related to each other. In the era of fake news, an active and informed citizen should be able to evaluate information from different sources from critical positions. Must be helpful to reason and make decisions. It is necessary to learn to ask questions, and not to answer them. In short, you have to be morally, physically healthy! Then I think that the future will not seem so terrible. Very useful article!

Thank you! The article was very helpful to me personaly. I am studying for a master's degree in public relations. I want to get experience in my specialty abroad, work as a PR manager and get recommendations from the employer. Can you write an article about how to get recommendations from good companies for students from Kazakhstan?