I’ve never been a fan of the term “soft skills.”
This label spans a multitude of crucial communications skills – written, verbal, digital, visual, etc. Yet, this “soft” label also conveys something less valuable. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Take written skills, for starters. While everybody writes, precious few can create high-impact copy that enlightens, persuades or converts browsers into customers.
If you’re a wordsmith, a digital sharing dynamo, or a graphic designer who can transform complex concepts into visuals that enlighten, there are plenty of freelance opportunities waiting for you.
Now would be a great time to apply the superpowers you’ve honed throughout your career to learn more about client needs and propose a freelance pilot to help advance their communications strategy.
Talent Gaps Are Growing
With U.S. unemployment rates running at record lows (3.7% in September 2018), many companies are struggling to find the talent they need. Some are trimming back on requirements and settling for candidates with much lighter skills and experience.
According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, nearly 60% of US job postings remain unfilled beyond 12 weeks.
Yes, the war for talent is intensifying, which bodes well for savvy Retirepreneurs who are poised to address these talent gaps.
The Freelance Nation is Growing, Too
Freelancing in America – 2017 is a comprehensive study, commissioned by Freelancers Union and Upwork and conducted by Edelman Intelligence, an independent research firm.
Here are a few fascinating findings from this report:
- 3 million people in America are engaged in some kind of freelance endeavor
- 7 million Americans were engaged in non-freelance work (aka employed by others)
- Millennials are the largest segment, making up 47% of the total freelance workforce
- Freelancers average 4.5 clients per month
- By 2027, experts predict that the majority of US workers will be freelancers
Freelance Categories in High Demand
In the world of high-tech, a recent Forbes article identified four skills to hone, as they predict demand will continue to surge:
- Robotics and internet of things (IoT)
- AI and machine learning
- Blockchain technology
- Data science
Freelance Hacks called out these seven fields for two reasons – high demand + high pay rates:
- Programming and Software Coding
- Web Design & Development
- Content Marketing & Writing
- Graphic Design
- Video Editors
- Social Media Managers
Wisdom Outperforms Knowledge
While Chip Conley was already highly regarded in HR circles for his book, PEAK: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow, it’s his latest book, Wisdom@Work: The Making of a Modern Elder, that’s triggering staffing strategy breakthroughs in today’s fast-changing and competitive marketplace.
While Airbnb initially hired Conley for his industry knowledge, they soon discovered that his wisdom was even more valuable, driving performance gains and boosting morale across the entire organization.
Conley was particularly adept at connecting with younger generations. He held back on dispensing advice at first. Instead, he immersed himself in team meetings and listened intently. He was also unafraid to ask questions that sometimes revealed a skill gap or two of his own. Over time, as trust grew, younger colleagues reached out to him for coaching, often around managing others and peer-to-peer interactions (emotional intelligence). Younger colleagues returned the favor, coaching Conley on the DQ piece (digital intelligence).
This mutual mentorship model was the linchpin – the breakthrough concept that helped foster richer and more meaningful exchanges across the enterprise.
Which superpower will you refine and deploy? How might younger generations help close a few skill gaps for you?