Critical Skills for the New Age Professional


Since early 2020, we are facing a significant demarcation into the Pre and Post covid era. While things changed for humanity on several grounds post-Covid, we have witnessed a change in the skills required for the New Age professionals to succeed and thrive in their careers.

Let us look at five critical paradigm shifts that are gaining impetus for the hiring manager to be consciously aware while hiring the right prospective candidate for the company and for professionals to highlight and demonstrate at the interview stage and beyond.

Numbers to Narratives

Businesses showcase their growth story using numbers. However, what is now gaining momentum is the story behind those numbers. The following elements need to be considered.

  • Why do things happen?
  • What did we learn from them?
  • How can we use the learnings for strategy development & growth?

Businesses have realized and accepted the impact of storytelling and are diligently imbibing them as part of their day-to-day activities. For example, companies may lose certain customers in the normal course. However, businesses are becoming more cautious in understanding factors that lead to customer churn (Internal Vs. External). The insights that companies obtain from such situations are then used to improve the way they work in the short/medium term and further strengthen their strategy and competitive advantage in the long term.

Structured Vs. Unstructured

While working in an organization, most professionals operate in an established ecosystem, have a job description that guides them, and have policies & procedures that act as the overarching framework to work within. However, for the new age professional:

  • Things are becoming less sequential and/or linear
  • Multi-tasking is the new normal
  • The environment in which they operate is now changing more rapidly

To cope with an accelerated and exponential VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) world, professionals would have to be more agile to change (both in terms of thinking & execution) and prepared to adapt to situations on the go. Gone are the days when professionals were hired to do (almost) the same job week after week. Job descriptions would only be a reference point to engage and get an employee started. The new rule of the game would be – Neither there is nor will there be any “Zone of Comfort.”

Status-quo Vs. Active experimentation

The tagline for the future is “Self-disrupt or get disrupted.” The business environment is continually evolving. In the end, clients will expect new solutions that best suit their business model and not just what is available off the shelf. Professionals would need to challenge the status quo and develop different ways of doing things and solving a problem.

Employees will gain if they spend time acclimatizing with and contributing to change rather than resisting it. Being comfortable with the VUCA situations will give professionals a competitive advantage over their peers and attract more growth opportunities for them.

Intelligent Quotient (IQ) Vs. Emotional Quotient (EQ)

IQ represents the measurement of logical / reasoning ability. On the other hand, EQ means behaviours/reactions that we demonstrate while situations happen and work to resolve them. Escalations will happen, customers will get demanding, and how employees react could be a game-changer during the process.

Eight out of ten customers are happy with the company and its product & services. This is a very good sign for the company. However, professionals will now have to undertake the challenge & strive to convert the other two customers into brand ambassadors. The moment this is achieved, growth could be accelerated.

Professionals with higher EQ, i.e., the ability to put aside their emotions and see-through situations more objectively and practically, are the ones who will be able to drive businesses, teams, and self towards success.

Employee to Intrapreneur

It’s a matter of the past when you could be an employee with a mindset of coming to work, finishing tasks assigned, getting paid, and expecting to grow during the annual performance assessment cycle. It will be more about demonstrating ownership and delivering impact in the new age. Employees will have to start to think & act like intrapreneurs/entrepreneurs by being owners of specific business areas / sub-areas. Professionals will no longer be people who will only report on the KPIs. They will have to:

  • Craft them
  • Own them
  • Achieve them
  • Better them to make businesses gain more competitive advantage.

SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Reliable & Time-bound) goals would have to be taken to the next level by making them SMAARTE (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Audacious, Realistic, Time-Bound & Entrepreneurial)

Additionally, employees will benefit from developing super skills such as communication, negotiation, leadership, critical thinking, relationship enrichment, etc. Efforts of the organizations should also be geared towards imparting and enhancing these skills to their employees.

Acquiring, implementing, and sharpening these skills would require the professional to prioritize a stronger growth mindset and complement the same with consistency in the application of these key skills, thereby warranting a paradigm shift from how they were operating in the past.

We all know, have heard of, adapted, and implemented the fact that “Change is the only constant.” However, in the current times, the speed of change has been accelerating, resulting in a difference in the macro environment and business conditions faster than ever before. This has further warranted the need for individuals to keep track of, build and implement all the above universal skills agnostics of profession, qualification, and/or experience. Imbibing such a change requires a mindset shift, and professionals who make the first move have the advantage of surviving the VUCA world and propelling them to build great careers.


~ Akhil Iyer | Author, Coach and Speaker | Propelurs Consulting | Ex Assistant Director EY GDS

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