Digital skills ilustration

Are digital skills more valuable than your career history?

This is something that we ought to discuss. It's incredibly relevant in the world we live. It can have quite a strong impact on your career.

7 December 2021

I'm going to mention the word "digital skills". It's become a bit of a buzzword recently. But it's not a fad or fashion. It’s critical for your future career. But first, what’s digitalisation?

Digitalisation explained

Companies across all sectors have begun the path to digitalisation. It began as a massive PR stunt but now it’s considered a business-critical activity.

You often hear corporate managers boasting about "digitalisation" projects that run into the millions. These huge sums of money are spent on digital infrastructure to futureproof businesses as we enter a new digital age.

Subsequently, there is now a huge demand for digital skills across all industries. What has become very noticeable is that this trend accelerated during the pandemic.

What are digital skills?

At a very basic level, digital skills include being able to send an email, update your Outlook calendar, and use Excel and Word. Most of us have been doing this for years. However, there are a new set of digital skills that can be extremely valuable for your career if you have them. Let’s run through some examples.

1. Using social media

This is probably where I see the greatest weaknesses in candidates. Although it's important to socialise in the real world, you also need to do it digitally. Your reach and visibility within your industry is so much greater if you are prepared to use social media to communicate.

Quite often I meet candidates who hate social media. I have no problem with this. But just because you dislike something doesn't mean that it is not valuable to your career.

The benefit of actively using social media is the scalability it offers. A social media network allows you to reach people anywhere in the world. You can make far more connections and create more career opportunities for yourself this way.

2. Taking videos and photos, and editing them

You might be surprised, but this is a very important skill. I have placed candidates where the recruitment process includes shooting a three-minute video about why they want the job. The reason employers do this is because they want to see your confidence and your ability to articulate your thoughts clearly. If you are on Zoom calls with clients around the world, it makes sense to test you in this way.

Another skill that has become essential is the ability to make basic edits to a video or photo. Both are important tools for digital communication, whether it is sharing content on social media, through email or on a website.

3. Using tools for digital collaboration

This is something you need to do even if you are not familiar with the software being used. Regardless of what project you’re doing, you need to quickly get to grips with the right technology to keep on track.

Tools like Microsoft Teams have become invaluable for employers. They help create a collaborative and familiar space that can bring teams together regardless of where they are based. All the files and folders for a project can be organised in a single location which every team member has access to.

Microsoft OneNote is another useful tool that few people use. It is a digital notebook, which can allow remote workers to get organised very efficiently. The use of digital huddle boards are also popular. They are a visual management technique that are useful for daily huddle meetings, regardless of where you’re based.

They can help accommodate brainstorming sessions digitally and encourage innovation within firms. They can also allow management teams to quickly glean important insights from the multiple teams that they have to manage.

4. Coding

Although in most instances you don't need to code, having knowledge of coding can be extremely useful. It demonstrates a certain level of intelligence and a high degree of IT literacy.

Nowadays most people can string together a basic Excel formula, while in the past most would struggle. Coding has become so accessible these days that in the future writing a short piece of code will be the equivalent to writing in Excel formula. All you need to do is put the time and effort to learn how to code.

So where does that leave your career history and past experience?

Your career history is valuable. It tells the story of how you got to where you are now. But you also need to express where you want to go in the future. And to do this you need to constantly up skill and refresh the knowledge and experiences that you have. Digital skills are not more valuable than your career history. They are just there to demonstrate that your career history matters, and you are willing to invest in yourself.