This is easily one of the most challenging times to be a first-time job-seeker in at least a decade. Job losses are many, and there are plenty of experienced people taking lower-level jobs to try and get by; but that doesn’t mean it’s all doom and gloom for the first-time job-seeker.
There are opportunities available for entrants into the job market; it’s primarily a matter of distinguishing yourself among the crowd. It is, however, just as important to equip yourself with the necessary skills to perform well in your career. While job-specific training and education is naturally important, these don’t necessarily prepare you for the challenges of being an employee and a member of a professional team.
Why soft skills are important
Regardless of what job you perform, or which industry you work in, you will interact with other people at some level. You will also be required to perform a specified amount of work, or achieve certain deliverables every day. This counts as much for a construction worker as it does for a CEO. There are a number of soft skills you can learn to help make working with other people, delivering your expected productivity, and to help you find the right job and forward your career.
Companies like ManpowerGroup have always emphasised the importance of developing soft skills, especially when you are entering the job market for the first time. Most employers are hoping you will fit in quickly and get on with the job. For many of them, that means feeling confident that they are hiring someone with the right soft skills, on top of their qualifications.
Fortunately, there are many personal development courses available online that can help you develop these skills, as well as other, more job-specific training. In the segments below, we’ve highlighted a few of our favourite places to learn the necessary skills to break into your future career.
How to forward your career
Whatever type of job you’re looking for, you need to be able to identify your own goals, and understand how to achieve them, This can be anything from preparing your CV to getting an interview, to planning your career path to set long-term goals. Some of our favourite courses in this regard are:
- Getting Results Through Personal Power (PowerYou): This ManpowerGroup PowerYou course helps you unlock your personal ability to negotiate
- Introduction to Personal Branding (Coursera): This course helps you learn to establish your “brand” on social media, including professional networks like LinkedIn
- Introduction to Negotiation (Coursera): Even if you don’t work in sales, knowing how to negotiate well is a very useful skill in many areas in life and business
- 50 Career & Self Development Tips (Udemy): This course promises to help you find career success, from finding your passion to achieving all your business goals
Interpersonal skills and communication
South Africa is a country with eleven official languages, which means that even small companies can have employees with multiple different home languages. That can make communication in the workplace challenging, even (and especially) when one language is chosen as the official workplace tongue. Here are a few courses that can help you be a more effective communicator in our diverse country:
- Understanding Cross-cultural Communication in International Business (Alison): While this course is geared to international business, it has great value in a multicultural country like South Africa
- Acting With Diplomacy and Tact (PowerYou): Learn two of the most critical business communication skills with this ManpowerGroup PowerYou course
- Business Writing Skills (Confident Communicator): This course from a South Africa provider can help you learn to write confident, effective emails and other business documents
- Communication Skills for Beginners (Udemy):
- Understanding Cross-cultural Communication in International Business (Alison): A great place to start developing effective communication skills
While English as a business language is important, we should remember that because we have such a diversity of languages in this country, it can only be helpful to learn another language. Take the time to seek out courses that will teach you how to speak one of South Africa’s many languages as your second or even third language.
Time management and productivity
What can we possibly say about time management and its role in productivity that hasn’t been said a thousand times before? It is widely known that managing your time well is a critical skill in business, yet many struggle with this years into their career. Here are a few time management courses that will help put you on the right track from the start:
- Performing Under Pressure (PowerYou): Learn to keep your cool and perform, no matter the pressure
- Ultimate Time Management (Alison): This course offers unique, cutting-edge time management strategies suited to today’s business world
- Time Management Mastery: Do More, Stress Less (Udemy): This course is packed full of great resources to help you master time management
Developing your soft skills is about more than just having something to put on your CV. These are about developing a successful career, no matter what your job description is. By learning to work well with your colleagues, manage your own time and productivity well, and paying attention to how you come across in business, you will have a solid foundation on which to build your career.
Lyndy van den Barselaar is the MD of ManpowerGroup South Africa.