The short answer -- Incredibly Relevant -- but it's all about your communication.
🏝 Like it or not, unless you’re completely off the grid without internet connection, you’re actively partaking in today’s digital economy. While some of us merely are on the consumer end of this, much of today’s workforce involves jobs solely based in or for digital companies.
With your groceries a click away or a ride to the airport summoned by a simple swipe, there are many benefits to digitalization. The rise of the internet and the Gig Economy have brought along many opportunities as well--perhaps chief among them the ability to work remotely.
Digitalization has also given rise to interesting new jobs, as well as reimagined traditional jobs that can now be done from anywhere in the world … despite this, U.S. bachelor's degrees haven’t changed significantly over this time. And these new roles require a particular set of skills. Burning Glass Technology, an analytics software company that delivers real-time data and career and academic planning tools, has identified 14 foundational skills needed in today’s digital economy. They can be broken up into three categories: human skills, business enabler skills, and digital building block skills.
It’s important to acknowledge that both human skills and business enabler skills are largely covered by traditional education, which sometimes lacks a digital focus. That said, not every job that contributes to the digital economy requires a candidate to possess all of the foundational digital skills; yet acquiring these skills may only involve minimal extra training.
Doubling down on transferable skills 🎲
For example, someone who majored in philosophy has had to demonstrate proficiency in complex intellectual skills, such as critical thinking, problem solving, and synthesizing ideas, as well as communication skills. These can easily be transferred to virtually any industry and profession, as GetEducated.com points out in “Highest Paying Jobs for Philosophy Majors”. (Clearly, philosophy does not deserve the punchline of ‘thinking deep thoughts about unemployment’.)
Ultimately, employability becomes a matter of students understanding and communicating the value of the transferable skills they bring to the table, and of employers’ willingness to acknowledge that these skills lie at the essence of positions they seek to fill. If graduates can position their creativity, communication or critical thinking in ways that are contextually relevant--e.g. bringing new innovative ideas to the company, considering the bigger picture/company ‘vision’ or negotiating effectively--they stand to win job offers and boost companies’ productivity. And if they emphasize their interest in lifelong learning, that’ll only be seen as a bonus by and for employers.
What can recent grads do to bridge the gap from a traditional degree to the skills demanded from a digital economy? It all boils down to communication and training.
Job seekers should practice ‘hyperfocusing’ their resumes and portfolios to showcase specific skills that matter most in remote work, or to a specific job. A few options include:
Since posting language can make or break an applicant pool, remote employers need to tailor their job descriptions and requirements thoughtfully by mentioning the kinds of transferable skills they’re seeking. In fact, thinking about job requirements and the skills needed to succeed in a job, is also an ideal time to evaluate whether a current in-office job could be done remotely in the future.
Far too often, job postings focus solely on specific tasks and hard skill requirements, but lack the foundational skills required to succeed in the job. If you’re looking to hire remote workers, determine which transferable skills are needed and add them to your vacancy descriptions--possibly occupying a place of prominence in the posting.
And last but not least: spread the word about the importance of the transferable skills produced by so-called traditional education. Don’t overlook those liberal arts majors; they may one day represent your team’s greatest thinkers and innovators. Preparing to compete in today’s digital economy is really only a matter of communication and additional training.
Update: With extensive experience in Ed Tech, we're passionate about aligning the future of work with the future of ed. If you share in our passion, we'd love to chat.
Simone Beltz contributed to this post.