Knowledge or skills: how do you make an impression as an employee?

While our CVs are full of job titles and tasks, there is a growing need to develop timeless skills. So-called soft skills, such as self-reflection and decision making, will take employees a lot further in the job market.

Creative thinking, solving complex problems and negotiating: these are some of the so-called ’21st century skills’ that are becoming increasingly important for working people. In 2016, the World Economic ForumThe World Economic Forum (WEF) is an annual meeting of the CEOs of the world’s largest corporations, international politicians (presidents, prime ministers and others), intellectuals and journalists. Learn more about the World Economic Forum (Wikipedia). an article on the 10 most important work skills for the futureRead the article “The 10 skills you need to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution”. In a world where computers and robots are taking over more and more tasks from us, the work remains what human skills are needed for. It is not for nothing that the World Economic Forum has been writing for years about the job revolution – which is now well underway – and how important it is to improve our future work skills.

What do you say in a job interview?

In a job interview, the selection of your previous jobs is invariably a useful topic of conversation. A good way to show that you are knowledgeable in the field. But it’s not a measure of your success with a potential new employer, according to Jan Nieuweboer, future of work-expert at Rabobank. “It’s more interesting to tell what human skills you’ve acquired in the past and how you use them in your work. Of course, knowledge is still indispensable. Hiring an IT professional who has never programmed before is obviously not very handy.

People will need the future work skills more and more in order to remain a relevant employee.
Jan Nieuweboer

Future of work; knowledge or skills at school?

This stubborn focus on knowledge is not strange either. It was partly fuelled by our educational system. “In the past, the emphasis in studies was mainly on knowledge. You might have learned work skills in a playful manner, but these were often not explicitly taught”, says Nieuweboer. “That’s changing now, fortunately. People will need the future work skills more and more in order to remain a relevant employee. Part of the knowledge you acquire today during your studies is quickly outdated again. Skills will always be up to date.”

How do you improve your future work skills?

Rabobank has been offering its employees specific training courses for future work skills for several years. “We used to talk internally about developing competencies, but that’s far from simple. We used to talk about developing competencies internally, but that is far from simple. If you want to motivate employees to develop, you have to make it easy for them. That’s why we decided to offer training aimed at a specific skill,” says Nieuweboer. “If you develop a number of these skills further, you will be even more interesting for Rabobank and in the future for other companies as well.

Why are storytelling and self-reflection included in the list?

An interesting fact: Rabobank’s skills list is unique, because the bank itself has added two more important skills to the list. Storytelling and self-reflection. “Self-reflection is an underrated skill within Rabobank. If you ask people ‘what are you good at?’, they often don’t have a well thought-out answer to that. While it is very important to know where your talents lie. And if you can tell those talents with storytelling in a nice complete story, then you can sell yourself well”.

How does storytelling increase work motivation?

Storytelling and self-reflection are also useful to tell your own story: why do you do the work you do? And what do you add to the bigger picture? “Rabobank finds it important that every employee knows what he or she is contributing to the joint mission ‘Growing a better world together’. An app builder at Rabobank, working on the development of tools, may not be directly focused on his contribution to the bigger picture. But if you look at what the tool is for – giving people in debt restructuring more insight into their finances – he certainly contributes to a better world”.